TCS To Work On Malaria Genomes

Hyderabad | Updated: Feb 27 2004, 05:30am hrs
Following its success in developing the countrys indigenised bioinformatic software tool, Biosui-te, IT major Tata Consultancy Services is now working on a novel project for improving the annotation of the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum genome.

As part of the New Millennium Information and Technology Leadership Project (NMITLI), constituted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), department of biotechnology, TCS has applied to CSIR to work on a project called Improved annotation for this malaria causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, Dr M Vidyasagar, executive vice-president, TCS told FE.

Dr Vidyasagar said that TCS is expecting to initiate this unique project by April 2004 after receiving clearances from CSIR. The project is being worked out in partnerships with six research institutions which are: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, Central Drug Research Institutite, Lucknow, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi and Kolkata and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Research Centre, Delhi.

The improved annotation of the malaria-causing parasite will help in finding the missing genes, identify their functions and find enzymes in known pathways, he said. This assumes significance because this kind of malaria-causing parasite do not respond to any of the existing treatment of malaria. In India, about 40 per cent of the people are affected by this parasite and suffer without any kind of treatment, he said.

Elaborating, Dr Vidyasagar said that this project will take about three years time for completion which can bring out leads for bringing out new drugs for treatment of this kind of malaria and the annotation will help in the process to identify those missing genes, he said. The existing medicines available can cure malaria which is caused by the Vivax parasite, he added.

For this Improved annotation project, we will be using our own Biosuite bioinformatic product to locate those genes and understand the functions as most of the existing algorithmn do not work on this Plasmodium falciparum, he said adding Biosuite is expected to be launched commercially by mid of this year.