Hyd centre to grow virus in human cells for in vitro testing
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.
CCMB WILL PARTNER
WITH EYESTEM AND USE ITS HUMAN LUNG EPITHELIAL CELL TO UNDERSTAND THE CHARACTERISTICS OF SARS-COV-2
Doctors hope this will aid in development of drugs and vaccines.