New Delhi: Scientists from across Indiaon Sunday announced the first-ever detail mapping of mycobacteriumtuberculosis (MTB), the bug responsible for spread of thedisease that kills 1.7 million people every year globally. Hundreds of scientists from across the country put injoint efforts at a three-day `Connect 2 Decode` (C2D)conference to complete the final re-annotation of the 4,000-odd genes that determine how the TB bug lives and infectshumans. The TB gene map, developed under the Open Source DrugDiscovery (OSDD) initiative of the Council of Scientific andIndustrial Research (CSIR), will be available in the publicdomain for drug makers.
The MTB map has been hosted on a web portal(www.osdd.net) custom-developed by Infosys and uses anemerging format (Web 3.0) that allows users to get bettersearch results while searching for data. Though the MTB gene was sequenced more than a decadeback, no more than 1,000 of the near 4,000 genes have beenannotated, he said adding, the OSDD participants have taken upthe challenge of annotating all possible genes in MTB withinteroperable community standards. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.7million people die annually from TB and in some areas of theworld, one in four people can no longer be treated withstandard drugs regimens. "Despite this public health emergency, TB researchfunding remains alarmingly inadequate, particularly forresearch into new drugs," Brahmachari said. "We need to have a balanced view between health as aright and health as a business. It is because there has beenimbalance in this view, that diseases like TB with highmortality but low profitability are neglected by thecurrent system of pharmaceutical research," he said. "As virtually no new TB drugs have been developed sincethe 1960s, OSDD`s model in particular holds great promise forthe scientific community by stimulating the development ofbetter drugs and diagnostics for patients," said Zakir Thomas,Project Director OSDD. Under the C2D project, researchers and students pooledtheir time and skills using online tools to provide insightsinto 4,000 genes of the deadly pathogen. The researchers also mapped the genes as they relate tofunctional interactions and pathways. "C2D demonstrates the power of people to connect throughthe internet, particular young people, and accomplish complexresearch tasks," Thomas said. OSDD was launched in September 2008 by CSIR with a Rs 146crore budget for collaborative research efforts that focusesprimarily on TB. PTI
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