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
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
“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.