During my graduation the subject that always fascinates me was genetics and later on I enjoyed teaching it too. The genes present in the DNA of every individual are the expression of human life, determining each and every detail from hair color to the health risks possessed by a living being. It was interesting to study about the blood groups, hereditary diseases and human genome project.
At that time we just have an introduction to genome as it was a developing technology but due to its high cost it wasn’t that applicable. Fortunately now it is a reality that many countries have succeeded in mapping human genome which is a landmark achievement. It was due to Human genome project that we know there are approximately 30,000 genes in human beings and Understanding how these genes express themselves will provide clues to how diseases are caused.
Recently Pakistan has become the first Muslim country ranking 6th in the world to map the sequence of one of its nationals after the US, China, UK, Japan and India.
In just 10 months using a recently developed technology, Scientists at the Karachi University Dr Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine & Drug Research (PCMD) in collaboration with Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), China, have jointly mapped genome of the first Pakistani man. The former chairman of the Higher Education Commission, renowned scientist and scholar Dr Attaur Rahman volunteered for the project.
The two member research team were comprised of PCMD’ Asst Prof Dr Kamran Azeem and BGI’s Dr Yang Zaung. The findings reveal that Pakistanis are more similar to Europeans than Chinese and Africans. However, Dr Rahman’s genome may not be the exact depiction of a Pakistani and facts may differ because of several ethnicities in the country. An average genome of Pakistan will be obtained by making a pool of all the characteristics, i.e., the differences and similarities of all the people living in the country but it will require huge funds.
The first Human genome mapping project completed in 2003, was a 13-year project coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The genome of the first American was mapped at a cost of six billion dollars while the genome mapping now in Pakistan costs $40,000 which was shared by China and Pakistan equally.
It is just like a first step towards the book of life of a nation which will later on help the scientist in improving diagnosis of diseases as well as tracking mutations.