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Home / India News / 5 bio-repositories for clinical, viral Covid-19 samples set up

5 bio-repositories for clinical, viral Covid-19 samples set up

The repositories already have over 44,000 clinical and 17 viral samples in the bank. Of these, over 5,000 samples have already been shared with 30 institutes or companies.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2020 01:42 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Five dedicated bio-repositories for clinical and viral samples linked to the coronavirus disease have been set up
Five dedicated bio-repositories for clinical and viral samples linked to the coronavirus disease have been set up(AP)

India has set up five dedicated bio-repositories for clinical and viral samples linked to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) that will be shared with researchers from the academia and industry to speed up innovations to combat the pandemic.

The department of biotechnology has supported the setting up of the bio-repositories at the NCR-Biotech Science Cluster-Translational Health Science And Technology Institute, Faridabad; Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi; National Centre for Cell Science, Pune; InStem, Bangalore; and Institute of Life Sciences Bhubaneswar.

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“Today, five bio-repositories have been created at five places across the country, two in Delhi and adjoining Faridabad. Researchers from across the country – not just within the government setup but outside it too – can have access to bio-samples such as serum (blood), stool, urine, sputum, or swabs of virus sample whatever it is. I am sure that this concept will be a boon for the whole scientific community, especially the young researchers and startups,” Union minister for health and family welfare and science and technology Dr Harsh Vardhan said at the launch.

“These repositories are authorised to share these samples with academia and industry involved in development of diagnostics, vaccines, etc. after scrutinising the purpose of request and ensuring benefit to the country,” the minister said.

The repositories already have over 44,000 clinical and 17 viral samples in the bank. Of these, over 5,000 samples have already been shared with 30 institutes or companies.

“The repositories in Delhi and NCR {National Capital Region} have the highest number of samples. We are trying to get more institutes on board,” said Dr Renu Swarup, secretary, department of biotechnology.

Not just with clinical samples, the department of biotechnology has supported innovations for India’s fight against Covid-19 through its industry consortium, which has supported 120 projects and scientists either in development or manufacturing.

These include 19 projects and scientists working on developing a vaccine against Covid-19 and a supporting ecosystem for animal and clinical trials; 50 on diagnostics development and scaling up of manufacturing, 25 projects and scientists working on developing either novel molecules or therapies or repurposing already existing ones, and 26 other biomedical interventions, according to Dr Swarup.

“We have supported vaccine development right from early development to clinical trials. Now we are looking at preparing our manufacturing capacity as well. One of the vaccines supported by us – developed by Zydus – has already progressed to clinical trials in humans. Four others are in advanced stages of preclinical studies and should go into trial in another four to six weeks. As for the trial to see whether BCG vaccine has any impact on Covid-19 infection, the volunteers have been recruited,” said Dr Swarup.

The organisation has also started preparing sites for large phase III clinical trials at five places across the country – INCLEN Trust International’s Haryana chapter; KEM Vadu, Pune; Christian Medical College, Vellore; Society for Health Allied Research Education (SHARE), Hyderabad.

The trial sites will provide access to cohorts of 50,000 to 100,000 people and a serological study will begin Saturday onwards to check for the prevalence of antibodies at the sites.

“We have kept the sites ready for the phase III trials in five places. The preparation had started for dengue and chikungunya trials under the national biopharma mission launched two years ago and was quickly converted for Covid-19. In addition, we are preparing six other trial sites that are likely to be ready by year end. We are already in talks with the World Health Organisation that is about to begin its solidarity trials and India would like to be a participant,” said Dr Swarup.

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