Science & Technology

COVID-19: Lucknow lab to sequence SARS-CoV-2 strains

The research lab has inked an MoU with King George’s Medical University 

By Jyoti Singh
Published: Friday 17 April 2020
World's largest physics meeting cancelled due to COVID-19 fears. Source: Pixabay

Working on three of the five verticals formulated by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) has inked a memorandum of understanding with King George’s Medical University (KGMU) to sequence novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 strains obtained from patients who tested positive for the virus in Uttar Pradesh.

The Lucknow-based lab will sequence the virus strains from samples of a few patients. This activity will be taken up under the first vertical ‘digital and molecular surveillance’.

As of now, eight different variants of the virus are known cause the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A team has been put into place to analyse whether changes to viral sequences, if any, will impact the proposed treatment strategies.

Therapeutics or repurposing of drugs to fight COVID-19 is the second vertical where CDRI is getting involved.

Under this, researchers are trying to repurpose some already existing drugs that have been used by clinicians.

“One of the fastest ways to get therapeutics to the patient is through repurposing of known drugs against COVID-19 infection. Here, CDRI has identified several candidate drugs for repurposing and will develop them under the collaboration,” said Professor Tapas Kumar, director, CSIR-CDRI.

The institution has a diverse library of molecules that have been screened using in silico approaches against a panel of drug targets from SARS-CoV-2 under the third vertical, ‘target-based screening systems’.

The identified hits will be evaluated in a preliminary drug-target-based screen (primary screen).

“The m-protease, CL-proteinase, ribonucleic acid-dependent RNA polymerase, Spikeprotein-ACE2 system and other targets are presently being worked on. Their binding/inhibition will also be evaluated in in vitro and in vivo systems with the help of sister laboratories and KGMU,” said Kumar.

Amita Jain, professor at KGMU, will lead the team of scientists at the univerity. R Ravishankar will lead the team of scientists from CSIR-CDRI. Raj Kamal Tripathi, a virologist at CDRI and an alumnus of KGMU, is leading all screening-related work at CSIR-CDRI. (India Science Wire)

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