India is set to take the global leadership in genome analysis. India has a large populations that are valuable in providing information about disease predisposition and susceptibility, which in turn will help in drug discovery and other related tasks.
However, India lacks the records of clinical information about the patients, sequence data without clinical information will have little meaning. And hence partnership with clinicians is essential. The real money is in discovering new drugs for ourselves and not in supplying genetic information and data to the foreign companies, who would then use this information to discover new molecules .
The genomic data provides information about the sequences, but it doesn’t give information about the functions. It is still not possible to predict the actual 3-D structure of proteins. This is a key area of work as tools to predict correct folding patterns of proteins will help drug design research substantially.
Looking at this biotech and pharma companies need tremendous software support. Software expertise is required to write algorithms, develop software for existing algorithms, manage databases, and in final process of drug discovery.
Some major opportunity areas for IT companies include:
* Improving utility& content of databases
* Tools for data generation, capture, and annotation
* For comprehensive functional studies tools and databases
* Representing and analyzing sequence similarity and variation
* Creating mechanisms to support effective approaches for producing robust, software that can be widely shared.
Indian IT companies have a great business opportunity to offer complete database solutions to major pharmaceutical and genome-based biotech companies in the world.
Pure cost benefits for the biotech companies will definitely drive the bioinformatics industry in the country. The biotech industry in 2000 has spent an estimated 36 percent on R & D. Success for many will mean a drastic reduction in R&D costs. Thus biotech companies will be forced to outsource software rather than developing propriety software like in the past. Since the cost of programs for handling this data is extremely high in the west, Indian IT companies have a great business opportunity to offer complete database solutions to major pharmaceutical and genome-based biotech companies in the world.
The IT industry can also focus more on genomic’s through different levels of participation areas such as hardware, database product and packages, implementation and customization of software, and functionality enhancement of database.
Abraham Thomas, managing director, IBM India Ltd, says, “the alignment of a vast pool of scientific talent, a world-class IT industry, a vigorous generic pharmaceutical sector and government initiatives in establishment of public sector infrastructure and research labs are positioning India to emerge as a significant participant on the global biotech map.”
With an objective to help and rise bioinformatics sector to the world map the Bioinformatics Society of India (Inbios) has been working since August 2001. The Inbios already has over 270 members in a short span of one and half years. It has become a common informal platform for the younger generation to learn and contribute to this sun rising field in India.
Problems in the sector
The major issue for India is its transition from a recognized global leader in software development to areas of real strength upon which it can capitalize in the biosciences. The identifiable areas are in computation biology and bioinformatics, where a substantial level of development skills are required to develop custom applications to knot together and integrate disparate databases (usually from several global locations), simulations, molecular images, docking programs etc.
The industry people, meanwhile, say that the mushrooming of Bioinformatics institutes is creating a problem of finding talented and trained individuals in this industry. While many of them has superficial knowledge and a certificate, India lacks true professionals in this area.
Most people, who opt for bioinformatics are from the life sciences areas that do not have exposure to IT side of bioinformatics, which is very important. Another issue is that some companies face shortage of funds and infrastructure. The turn around time for an average biotech industry to brakemen would be around three to five years.
Most of the venture capitals and other sources of funding would not be very supportive, especially if the company is not part of a larger group venture. It would help if the government would take an active role in building infrastructure and funding small and medium entrepreneurs.
Scenario of Bioinformatics in India for Entry level student ?
1. Where is the opportunities in field of Bioinformatics in commercial acumen in India?
According to me, there is opportunities of Bioinformatics in India are in research institutes and projects undergoing government funding. In India there is not much of opportunities in Pharmaceutical companies and there R&d section.
2. Does Research insti’s and universities favoring Bioinformatician for there specialization or just taking any one who just have passed NET/GATE or other eligibility test for PhD?
There are lots of Research institutes and Universities employing or enrolling candidates from different streams of life sciences like Zoology, botany, genomics , Biotechnology and other related streams of life Sciences for PhD and jobs in Bioinformatics irrespective as they have opted for Bioinformatics as last chance to get employment in research field. There are lots of places where work in Bioinformatics is going on and they don’t have even single Bachelor or Master’s student of Bioinformatics to do work or to pursue Further studies. As a bioinformatics student I really feel that passing Net/Gate or other eligibility test is a task for Bioinformatics or pharmacoinformatics student as compared to other students pursuing studies in other disciple of life sciences as he / she is having 4-6 programming languages, Mathematics , Statistics and Bioinformatics, and molecular Biology in academic curriculum in spite of having Chemistry,Physics,Zoology and Botany.
Future aspects of Bioinformatics :
As discussed in earlier post about CUDA (source: http:// www.nvidia.com ). Bioinformatics is emerging with a new concept of accelerating its application ultimately leading to genome analysis of millions of base pairs in a few seconds on your Notepad or Personal computer.So There are lots of opportunities coming our way.
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