Guwahati: A team of scientists of the Regional Medical Research Centre for NE Region (ICMR-RMRC), situated at Lahowal in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, has achieved momentum in isolating the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus in their BSL-3 Lab.
The scientists led by Dr. Biswa Jyoti Borkakoti and Dr. Aniruddha Jakharia, have isolated the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) in VERO-CCL81 cell line in the BSL-3 level lab available at their institute.
In layman’s term the significance of the COVID-19 virus isolation is that live and viable SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus) can now be produced in the laboratory in abundance and as and when required.
Till now the centre has provided almost 50,000 diagnostic test reports of COVID-19 for the people of this region. The research centre is engaged in various biomedical research works including, on the new COVID-19 pandemic.
With the achievement, the RMRC, Dibrugarh has become only the 3rd government Lab in the country after NIV (ICMR Lab), Pune and CCMB (CSIR lab), Hyderabad and 4th lab overall after Bharat Biotech (Pvt Biotechnology lab at Hyderabad), to isolate the virus in tissue culture.
In its official statement, the regional research centre said, “They used an immortal cell line VERO-CCL81 (derived from Kidney epithelial cell lines from green African monkey) which expresses the important ACE2 receptor needed by SARS-CoV-2 for cellular entry.”
The statement further said, “This was important for development of inactivated COVID-19 vaccine where virus grown in laboratory are inactivated by heat or chemical and purified for use as vaccines after pre-clinical and clinical trials.”
According to the statement, the potential uses of cultures of SARS-CoV-2 includes drug screening for potential drugs or drug candidates against the virus, testing effectiveness of disinfectants, use in development of therapeutic antibodies etc.
“It is also important to note that Bharat Biotech (a company based in Hyderabad) in collaboration with ICMR-NIV Pune (which supplied the virus grown in tissue culture), has developed an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine (COVAXIN) which will go for Phase I and Phase II human clinical trials starting in July,” the statement added.