Saturday, October 1, 2011

Genome sequence to give a peek into neem’s medicinal qualities

A laboratory here has completed the genome sequencing and translational genomics of neem, traditionally known for its medicinal and pesticide qualities.

The firm, Ganit Labs, a public-private initiative, is geared to sending the results of the genome sequencing of neem plant to peer review journal and has also communicated its findings to state biodiversity board. It is also in the process of setting up information knowledge portal to upload, retrieve and share neem data. 

“It will be an open access portal, where all current genome study, coding parts, molecular evolution of neem plant will be uploaded. The aim is to encourage students to access the information and come up with innovative ideas,” said Binay Panda, head of the labs. Though neem was used extensively by people in rural areas, nothing about its genome or genetic structure was known till now. Based on the lab’s genome sequencing, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries could conduct further studies to replicate’ medicinal or pesticide genetic structure for use in making commercial products.

Vijay Chandru, CEO, Strand Life Sciences, the private collaborator in setting up Ganit Labs, said: “We know about neem’s medical and pesticide properties. We know it works but it becomes scientific only when you explain the mechanism of action and give biological interpretation which is acceptable to modern science. We have the tools and capabilities to explain the mechanism now.”

Traditional knowledge

Economically relevant plants that have rich traditional knowledge but no molecular knowledge are next in the Labs’ agenda. 

Ganit Lab has been working along with Mazumdar Shah Cancer Centre in collecting samples of oral cancer tumours from the tongue and sequencing the genome. 

“We are trying to identify genetic signature specific to oral cancer that is peculiar to India, considering the high prevalence of this type of cancer. Once we detect the genetic signature, it can be used in diagnosis which will ensure early detection,” Chandru said.     

source- deccanherald

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