The Indian Diabetes Consortium (INDICO), a Pan-India initiative led by CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) with AIIMS as a principal clinical partner, has recently brought to light an entirely novel candidate gene, TMEM163 implicated in Type 2 Diabetes.
TMEM163 encodes a probable vesicular transporter in nerve terminals; and the study established a plausible mechanism of action for TMEM163 through impaired insulin secretion. This lends an unprecedented ‘neural angle’ to diabetes that needs to be explored further and holds immense potential in understanding new pathogenetic mechanisms involved in diabetes causation
The study currently accepted for publication in the ‘DIABETES’ (American Diabetes Association’s flagship journal), authored by 37 researchers, is the first and the largest ‘Genome Wide Association Study’ (GWAS) conducted for any complex disorder conceived and executed entirely in the developing world.
The work involved 12,535 Indians; with an initial phase involving 2465 subjects; Type 2 Diabetes patients and matched control individuals, followed by validation in two ethnic populations of India including Indo-Europeans and Dravidians, followed by a comprehensive meta-analysis. This effort places India to the list of countries which have the technology and human resource to perform high throughput complex genomic experimentation, at par with leading researchers in the developed world.
“The breakthrough represents the triumph of ‘Indian Functional Genomics Capacity’, whose nucleation started almost fifteen years ago under the CSIR umbrella with an objective to advance understanding towards complex diseases prevalent amongst Indians” said Prof Samir K. Brahmachari, Director General, CSIR.
“This study is an outstanding example from India, of a close collaboration between genomic scientists and clinical partners” said Prof Nikhil Tandon, AIIMS, a lead investigator of the project.
“This study shall go a long way in furthering the aims and objectives of INDICO as well as untangling the intricacies involved in this complex disorder” said Dr. Dwaipayan Bharadwaj, Principal Scientist, CSIR-IGIB. Further work on functionally validating this genomic discovery has already been initiated by Dr. Dwaipayan Bharadwaj’s group, in the well-established facility at CSIR-IGIB, through the development of zebra fish models. The article will be available online in the forthcoming week in ‘DIABETES’.
The INDICO consortium attracts countrywide participation spanning Delhi, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Chennai, involving premier research institutes and stalwarts of diabetes research like Dr. Nikhil Tandon, M.D, Ph.D (Dept of Endocrinology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences). Since Indians are not only genetically diverse but also have an exceptionally high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, the consortium provides researchers a unique and unparalleled opportunity to investigate the complex dimensions of diabetes genetics.