Hyd cen­tre to grow virus in hu­man cells for in vitro test­ing

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HT SPOTLIGHT - Jayashree Nandi let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: The Hy­der­abad-based Cen­tre for Cel­lu­lar and Molec­u­lar Bi­ol­ogy (CCMB) will at­tempt to grow SARS-CoV-2 in hu­man cell lines, en­abling in vitro ( lit­er­ally, in a test tube) test­ing of po­ten­tial drugs and vac­cines against Covid-19. Ex­perts said this could ex­pe­dite test­ing of new drugs that have not been tried on hu­mans be­fore.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Science and Tech­nol­ogy min­istry on Tues­day, CCMB will part­ner with cell ther­apy com­pany, Eyestem Re­search Pri­vate Lim­ited to de­velop th­ese cell lines. The re­search team will use Eyestem’s hu­man lung ep­ithe­lial cell cul­ture sys­tem provided as part of its anti-covid screen­ing (ACS) plat­form to un­der­stand the molec­u­lar and patho­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of SARS-CoV-2.

“Cul­tur­ing the virus out­side the hu­man host is a tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenge that needs to be over­come. Eyestem’s cell cul­ture sys­tem ex­presses the ACE2 re­cep­tor (an en­zyme the SarsCov-2 virus uses to en­ter the body) and other genes that are key de­ter­mi­nants of vi­ral en­try and repli­ca­tion. We hope that em­ploy­ing this sys­tem will al­low the CCMB team to grow the virus pre­dictably and thereby open up the po­ten­tial for the drug screen­ing and vac­cine de­vel­op­ment strate­gies”, said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Di­rec­tor, CCMB.

Be­fore hu­man tri­als new drugs should be tested in vitro and then in an­i­mals, said Dr Shobha Broor, for­mer head of the de­part­ment of virol­ogy at the

All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sci­ences. “For the re-pur­posed drugs be­ing tried for Covid 19, there is some ev­i­dence in vitro be­cause they have been tried for other viruses. For dif­fer­ent viruses, dif­fer­ent cell lines are need for test­ing ef­fi­cacy. If we es­tab­lish this sys­tem of test­ing Covid 19 drugs, when­ever we have a new drug it can be tested quickly in the hu­man lung ep­ithe­lial cell line,” she added.

In another state­ment, the min­istry said In­sti­tute of Ge­nomics and In­te­gra­tive Bi­ol­ogy (CSIR-IGIB) and Tata Sons have signed an agree­ment for li­cens­ing know-how for a paper strip based test named Fe­luda for rapid di­ag­no­sis of Covid 19.

Dr Anurag Agrawal, Direc­torIGIB said the tech­nol­ogy was con­ceived and de­vel­oped at CSIR IGIB and uti­lizes an in­dige­nously de­vel­oped cut­ting edge CRISPR Cas9 tech­nol­ogy to specif­i­cally rec­og­nize the Covid 19 se­quence in a sam­ple. A com­bi­na­tion of CRISPR bi­ol­ogy and paper-strip chem­istry leads to a vis­i­ble sig­nal read­out on a paper strip that can be rapidly as­sessed for es­tab­lish­ing the pres­ence of vi­ral in­fec­tion in a sam­ple. The test is named af­ter Satya­jit Ray’s fic­tional de­tec­tive Fe­luda.




Doc­tors hope this will aid in de­vel­op­ment of drugs and vac­cines.

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