Union Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and its public sector undertaking Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) have called for project proposals under their Covid-19 Research Consortium.

The first phase of the call ended on 30 March 2020 and around 500 applications were received from academia and the industry. A multi-tiered review process is on and till date 16 proposals for devices, diagnostics, vaccine candidates, therapeutics and other interventions have been recommended for receiving funding support under the Consortium.

A multifaceted approach is being adopted to ensure that vaccine candidates utilizing different platforms and at different stages of development are fast-tracked through this Research Consortium under funding from DBT’s National Biopharma Mission. Both, repurposing of existing vaccine candidates for immediate protection of high-risk groups and novel vaccine candidate development were considered while selecting proposals under this call.

Funding support has been recommended to Cadila Healthcare Ltd for advancing the development of a DNA Vaccine candidate against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and to Bharat Biotech International Ltd for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate utilising the inactivated rabies vector platform.

Further, Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) will be supported for Phase III human clinical trials study of a recombinant BCG vaccine (VPM1002) planned in high-risk populations and National Institute of Immunology for the development of a novel vaccine evaluation platform to support SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development.

In addition, OncoSeek Bio Pvt. Ltd will be provided support to create an in vitro Lung Organoid model and Virchow Biotech Pvt. Ltd for production of purified immunoglobulin G, IgG, at commercial scale from Covid-19 convalescent sera and high titers of equine hyper immune globulin for the treatment of COVID-infected patients on large scale.

Following companies will receive financial support to scale up the production of molecular and rapid diagnostic tests: Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Huwel Lifesciences, Ubio Biotechnology Systems Pvt. Ltd, Dhiti Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, MagGenome Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Bigtec Pvt. Ltd and Yaathum Biotech Pvt. Ltd.

Further, a common shared facility to manufacture diagnostic kits and ventilators will be established at Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) under National Biopharma Mission to provide scale-up in production capacity to different manufacturers.

Besides, development and deployment of contactless, affordable thermopile-based ultrasonic sensors for screening of Covid-19 suspects and indigenous production of novel PPE for healthcare professionals will be supported.

Twitter handle: @ndpsr

(India Science Wire)