Scientists at the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) in Bhubaneshwar have developed animal models and a modern laboratory that will help in testing and evaluation of drugs and vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said on Monday.
A key strategy to protect humans from the coronavirus pandemic is the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics.
Animal models that closely resemble the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2-induced disease in humans are essential for research on disease mechanisms and for the evaluation of potential vaccines and antiviral drugs, the DBT said in a statement.
Small animals like mice and Syrian hamster are advantageous to study SARS-CoV-2 as they reproduce faster and reproduce COVID-19 pathology in humans.
Among different available animal models, so far hamsters have been widely utilised in SARS-CoV-2 infection studies. Hamster model of COVID-19 mimics a mild pattern of human disease with full recovery.
"Realising the importance of these requirements for developing antiviral and vaccine candidates for SARC-COV-2, scientists at the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar have established these animal models and an ABSL3 (animal biosafety level 3) laboratory," the DBT said.
ILS is an institute under DBT. This platform at ILS has been established with the support from Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under Mission Covid Suraksha.
The COVID-19 research team of this institute has recently established and characterised hamster models of SARS-CoV-2 infection by using a local virus isolate cultured and characterised at ILS.
The proteomic study carried out at ILS shows the similarities between SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans and hamsters.
The findings of this study have recently been published in the journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Ajay Parida, the Director of the institute, said this animal model and the ABSL3 facility of the institute will contribute to a major role in providing services for the testing and evaluation of drugs and vaccine candidates for SARS-COV-2.
This facility will be operating on a fee-for-service mode or on a partnership mode, and will be available for use by researchers from academics, industry and start-ups from India and abroad, the DBT said.
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