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ILS establishes stable cultures of Coronavirus

11/07/2020 at 9:47 PM

Bhubaneswar, July 11: Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India has successfully established in vitro cultures of corona virus from the patient samples using Vero cells.

The vero cell culture technology is used worldwide to develop inactivated whole cell-based vaccines. 17 virus cultures have been established from swab samples originating from different locations of the country with varying virus loads.

These virus cultures have been established by the ILS team led by Scientists Dr. Soma Chattopadhyay and Dr. Gulam H. Syed following international protocols and all safety precautions in the BSL 3 facility.

Virus cultures have been stabilised with multiple passages in Vero cell culture and titres in culture supernatants of 7-9 passage were estimated by Foci-Forming Unit (FFU) assay. Infection of the Vero cells with SARS-CoV2 clinical isolate was also confirmed by immunofluorescence detection of SARS-CoV2 infection. Studies using genome sequencing approaches are underway for understanding stability and detecting any mutation in established cultures.

Dr. Ajay Parida, Director, ILS said “it is a significant development as only three other laboratories from India has reported establishing virus cultures till date”.

This has potential application in testing and screening for possible drug targets, formulations as well as possible use in vaccine development. Cultured SARS-CoV-2 can also be used in developing antibodies or anti-dotes, testing of antibodies and identification of effective therapeutic agents.

Dr. Parida expressed confidence that this will be a useful resource for the country in the fight against COVID pandemic as well as for future preparedness. In the long run these viral cultures will be useful for academicians as well as industry for testing and validating various antiviral products contributing to diagnostic, cure and management of COVID-19 pandemic. 

ILS has been supporting state government in augmenting testing for COVID-19 since April this year and has tested around 45,000 samples provided by the Govt of Odisha from as many as 26 districts. The institute has been selected as one of the 16 institutions in the country for setting up a biorespository of clinical samples for furthering research and development efforts for COVID-19. 

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