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Scientists Try To Map Animal Genes To Save Them From Extinction Down the Line

The project has similarities with the Earth BioGenome Project, which seeks to catalog the genomes for 1.5 million species.

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This undated photo provided by NOAA Fisheries, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows alewives, a species of river herring in North Kingstown, R.I. The federal government's National Marine Fisheries Service is looking at the health of the populations of alewives and blueback herring to see if the little fish should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. VOA

A group of scientists unveiled the first results Thursday of an ambitious effort to map the genes of tens of thousands of animal species, a project they said could help save animals from extinction down the line.

The scientists are working with the Genome 10,000 consortium on the Vertebrate Genomes Project, which is seeking to map the genomes of all 66,000 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish on Earth. Genome 10,000 has members at more than 50 institutions around the globe, and the Vertebrate Genomes Project last year.

The consortium Thursday released the first 15 such maps, ranging from the Canada lynx to the kakapo, a flightless parrot native to New Zealand.

Future conservation

The genome is the entire set of genetic material that is present in an organism. The release of the first sets is “a statement to the world that what we want to accomplish is indeed feasible,” said Harris Lewin, a professor of evolution at University of California, Davis, who is working on the project.

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The work is intriguing because it could inform future conservation efforts of jeopardized species. VOA

“The time has come, but of course it’s only the beginning,” Lewin said.

The work will help inform future conservation of jeopardized species, scientists working on the project said. The first 14 species to be mapped also include the duck-billed platypus, two bat species and the zebra finch. The zebra finch was the one species for which both sexes were mapped, bringing the total to 15.

Sequencing the genome of tens of thousands of animals could easily take 10 years, said Sadye Paez, program director for the project. But giving scientists access to this kind of information could help save rare species because it would give conservationists and biologists a new set of tools, she said.

Paez described the project as an effort to “essentially communicate a library of life.”

Three sequencing hubs

Tanya Lama, a doctoral candidate in environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, coordinated the effort to sequence the lynx genome. The wild cat is the subject of debate about its conservation status in the United States, and better understanding of genetics can better protect its future, Lama said.

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Genome 10,000 has members at more than 50 institutions around the globe, and the Vertebrate Genomes Project last year. Pixabay

“It’s going to help us plan for the future, help us generate tools for monitoring population health, and help us inform conservation strategy,” she said.

The project has three “genome sequencing hubs,” including Rockefeller University in New York, the Sanger Institute outside Cambridge, England, and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, organizers said.

The work is intriguing because it could inform future conservation efforts of jeopardized species, said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity who is not involved in the project. More information about animals’ genetics could lead to better understanding of how animals resist disease or cope with changes in the environment, she said.

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Sequencing the genome of tens of thousands of animals could easily take 10 years, said Sadye Paez, program director for the project. Pixabay

“I think what’s interesting to me from a conservation aspect is just what we might be able to discern about the genetic diversity within a species,” Matteson said.

Also Read: British Scientists Use Sunlight And Convert it to Fuel

The project has similarities with the Earth BioGenome Project, which seeks to catalog the genomes for 1.5 million species. Lewin chairs that project’s working group. The Vertebrate Genomes Project will contribute to that effort. (VOA)

Next Story

Scientists Facilitate The Regulatory Process For Herbal Drugs

A 2017 report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) predicts that the biosimilars market in India, that is currently worth about Rs 15,000 crore, is expected to cross the staggering Rs 2,50,000 crore-mark by 2030.

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Documentation and characterisation of Indian herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals will lead to a significant usage and their export. Pixabay

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s constituent laboratory, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad, and the Indian Pharmacopeia Commission (IPC), Ghaziabad, have joined hands to facilitate the regulatory process for biosimilars and herbal drugs, as per a statement here on Sunday.

The scope of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between CSIR-CCMB and the IPC is the development of biopharmaceutical reference standards and impurities therein, development of monographs for important Monoclonal Antibodies and identification of herbal drugs based on DNA Barcode analysis, a CCMB statement said.

Use of biologics – biological products that function as drugs against diseases – also known as biosimilars, are expanding their presence rapidly in the healthcare sector, including in India.

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Scientific validation and characterization of herbal drugs will not only help authentication of such drugs but also will bring credibility for this industry, the CCMB added. Pixabay

A 2017 report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) predicts that the biosimilars market in India, that is currently worth about Rs 15,000 crore, is expected to cross the staggering Rs 2,50,000 crore-mark by 2030.

Emergence of biopharmaceutical drugs as a preferred choice for therapy over conventional pharma drugs, requires concerted efforts by various sectors within the country towards production, characterisation and validation of indigenously developed products, the CCMB said.

The agreement was signed by CSIR-CCMB Director Rakesh Mishra and IPC’s Secretary-cum-Scientific Director G.N. Singh.

This collaboration, which has come into force with immediate effect, is very important in the current scenario owing to the increase in use of therapeutic proteins and herbal drugs for various diseases, the statement said.

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Use of biologics – biological products that function as drugs against diseases – also known as biosimilars, are expanding their presence rapidly in the healthcare sector, including in India. Pixabay

Documentation and characterisation of Indian herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals will lead to a significant usage and their export.

Also Read: When You Engage in ‘Hedonic Consumption’? Read Here To Find Out

This collaborative project will be executed at par with pharmacopeia standards of other countries, it said.

Scientific validation and characterization of herbal drugs will not only help authentication of such drugs but also will bring credibility for this industry, the CCMB added. (IANS)