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BLiSC campus gets DBT approval for development of technology to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Our Bureau, Bengaluru
Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 17:15 Hrs  [IST]

Bangalore Life Science Cluster (BLiSC) representing NCBS (National Center for Biological Sciences) and inStem (Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine) have received approval from the department of Biotechnology (DBT) to immediately undertake projects that aim to develop affordable, field-deployable actions in the fight against COVID-19.

The projects will deliver new disinfection technology, efficient sampling methodologies, new pooled testing methods, and technologies to screen potential drugs to treat COVID-19.

Given the acute shortage of reagents for the manufacture and procurement of COVID-19 diagnostic test kits in the country and worldwide, a rapid compressed sensing technology for COVID-19 pooled testing is being developed. It is lead by Sandeep Krishna (NCBS), Dasaradhi Palakodeti (inStem), and Uma Ramakrishnan (NCBS)

Given the acute shortage of masks and protective gear envisaged for battling the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for a rapidly deployable method of disinfection which can neutralise the virus on contact with any surface. The Lead Principal Investigators are Praveen Vemula (inStem) and Satyajit Mayor (NCBS).

A rapid colour-based assay for point-of-care COVID-19 detection is being developed by Arati Ramesh (NCBS) and Akash Gulyani (inStem/Univ. of Hyderabad).

An olfactory test for anosmia. Such a test could help identify potential COVID-19 clusters and high-risk individuals by Lead Principal Investigator: Sanjay Sane and Upinder Singh Bhalla (both NCBS)

A method to rapidly screen FDA approved drugs that interfere with key steps of viral entry and processing is being developed by Lead Principal Investigator: Arjun Guha (inStem), Satyajit Mayor (NCBS), Vardharajan Sundaramurthy (NCBS)

Cheminformatics approaches will be used to study whether antivirals already in use for other coronaviridae infections could be repurposed for COVID-19. These are by Lead Principal Investigator: R Sowdhamini, Shruthi Vishwanath, Shachi Gosavi (all NCBS) and N. Srinivasan (IISc)

Mathematical models of COVID-19 spread are being developed, including detailed agent-based models and coarse-grained epidemiological models. These will be fit to national-level quantitative data on COVID-19 spread, to provide recommendations on outbreak suppression by Mukund Thattai, Sandeep Krishna, Madan Rao (all NCBS), Srikanth Sastry (JNCASR).

Utilising our depth of expertise in the basic sciences, NCBS and nStem have been able to rapidly refocus our considerable workforce, resources, and technical facilities towards the COVID-19 response. We are committed to making deliverables and ensuring timelines in the current situation, stated BLiSC.


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