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CCMB paving way towards COVID-19 vaccine development

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Hyderabad (Telangana), May 29: Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) on Thursday announced that it has established a stable culture of coronavirus that will enable it to work towards vaccine development to fight COVID-19.

CCMB paving way towards COVID-19 vaccine development

Over the last month and a half, the CCMB established stable cultures of COVID-19 causing coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, from patients' samples.

A team of researchers led by CCMB virologist, Dr Krishnan H. Harshan, Principal Scientist, CCMB, said that they have isolated infectious viruses from several isolates. The ability to culture the virus in the lab enables the CCMB to discover a vaccine.

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    At the same time, the labs that are growing the virus need an 'immortal' cell line, added Dr Harshan.

    Explaining how SARS-CoV-2 affects humans, he said that it infects epithelial cells in human respiratory tract. "The viruses infect these cells by interacting with receptor proteins called the ACE-2 following which the virus is internalised by a process namely endocytosis. Virus RNA is later released into the cytoplasm of the cells where it makes viral proteins first and then starts to replicate the genomic RNA. Thus, the virus uses resources from these cells to make more copies of itself. Therefore the virus needs a set of host factors that allow it to replicate."

    "Primary epithelial cells generated from human origins do not grow for many generations in labs, which is key to culturing viruses continuously. And hence, CCMB and other labs who are growing the virus need an 'immortal' cell line," says Dr Harshan.

    "Using the Vero cell lines to grow the coronavirus, CCMB is now in a position to isolate and maintain viral strains from different regions. We are working towards producing viruses in huge quantities that can be inactivated, and used in vaccine development and antibody production for therapeutic purposes", says CCMB Director, Dr Rakesh Mishra.

    "We hope that such systems are replicated at multiple research institutes and private companies to become a useful resource in the fight against this pandemic as well as for future preparedness", said Dr Mishra.

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