Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that it was important to create indigenous, open-source, comprehensive database of molecular profiles of all cancers prevalent in the Indian population.
He was addressing a large gathering of oncologists, researchers and academicians from India, USA, UK and Bangladesh who had gathered to discuss modalities of working together to find more customized solutions to treat cancer.
The Union minister recently inaugurated the international conference of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) 2020 jointly organised by the Centre for Translational Cancer Research — a joint initiative of Prashanti Cancer Care Mission and IISER-Pune, Persistent Systems, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and DBT-Wellcome Trust India Alliance from December 3-5.
The online conference was based on the theme ‘Towards team science for the multi-omics cancer research in South Asia’. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the government was committed to reduce the cancer burden by employing latest technologies in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and AI/ML-mediated data analysis.
“Through the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology we have initiated large-scale mission-mode projects such as GenomeIndia, IndiGen, Cancer Genomics, Nutrition Mission etc. All of these are with the aim of improving clinical outcomes in cancer and other chronic diseases,” he said.
“Diverse molecular mechanisms — including individual genetic and lifestyle factors — contribute to cancer. These pose significant challenges to treatment and hence it is necessary to better understand the underlying factors — patient by patient.
With this in mind many developed countries have invested significant public resources in high-impact, multi-disciplinary cancer research specific to local contexts, the minister said.
A similar initiative recently launched in India — Indian Cancer Genome Atlas (ICGA) — should be useful for clinicians throughout the country and ultimately benefit a cancer patient by making treatment both more accessible and affordable in India, the minister urged.