Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Avesthagen initiates Parsi genome project

Avestha Gengraine Technologies (Avesthagen), a Bangalore-based integrated biotech company, has launched ‘Avestagenome’, a project to build a complete genetic, genealogical and medical database of the Parsi community.

According to Villoo Morawala Patell, founder and managing director, Avesthagen, the project is biotechnology-driven and would aim to come up with therapies and diagnostic tools to understand linkages between genes, diseases and environmental factors.

“The comprehensive database arising out of the project will provide invaluable information on these linkages for all of humanity and not just for the Parsi community. The project results will find application in disease prediction and accelerate the development of new therapies and diagnostics,” she added.

Parsi Zoroastrians, who now number about 69,000 in India, are an in-bred population resulting from the discouragement of inter-community marriages. Such in-bred populations are required to pinpoint inherited genes for diseases.

The Rs 125-crore project is expected to be completed in five years and is being implemented by a body of eminent stakeholders and opinion leaders within the Parsi community comprising leading industrialists, clinicians, scientists and others.

Avesthagen will bring in seed capital in the form of its high throughput genomics and bioinformatics facilities and other special expertise.

Villoo Patell said that Avesthagen and its partners will collect samples from members of the community along with a complete genealogical and medical information. The samples will be processed at the genomics facility at Avesthagen.

The facility is equipped with high-speed polymorphism analysis systems (Sequenom, USA’s MassARRAY) and ABI sequencers to identify the causative genes. The data will be statistically analysed through Avesthagen’s bio-informatics channels for processing and creating the database.

Original article here