Indian scientists to culture Coronavirus in human lung

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has tied up with Eyestem Research Private Ltd, a cell therapy company, for advanced research on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

May 5, 2020

The collaboration aims to grow novel coronavirus in human cell lines, which will enable in vitro testing of potential drugs and vaccines against the COVID-19

While CCMB is known for its research on cellular and molecular biology, Eyestem is a cell therapy startup incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms

Indian researchers are currently working on new drugs, vaccines, genome sequencing, plasma therapy, PPEs and medical devices for the COVID-19 pandemic

The Indian pharmaceutical industry, 3rd largest in the world by volume and the largest global provider of generic drugs, is at the forefront of COVID-19 research

Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a leading research organisation under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has tied up with Eyestem Research Private Ltd, Bengaluru-based cell therapy company, for research activities on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The collaboration aims to grow novel coronavirus in human cell lines, which will enable in vitro testing of potential drugs and vaccines against the COVID-19. The Indian pharmaceutical industry, 3rd largest in the world by volume and the largest global provider of generic drugs, is currently at the forefront of initiatives to find a cure for COVID-19. Indian researchers are working on new drugs, vaccines, genome sequencing, plasma therapy, PPEs, and medical devices for the pandemic. 

The CCMB-Eyestem research team will use Eyestem’s human lung epithelial cell culture system provided as part of its Anti-COVID Screening (ACS) platform to understand the molecular and pathological characteristics of the novel coronavirus, with a view of establishing a rational basis for testing potential drugs in vitro. “Culturing the virus outside the human host is a technological challenge that needs to be overcome. Eyestem’s cell culture system expresses the ACE2 receptor and other genes that are key determinants of viral entry and replication. We hope that employing this system will allow the CCMB team led by Dr. Krishnan Harshan to grow the virus predictably and thereby open up the potential for the drug screening and vaccine development strategies”, said Dr. Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB.

While CCMB is known for its research on cellular and molecular biology, Eyestem is a cell therapy startup incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bengaluru. C-CAMP is an initiative of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Eyestem expressed hope that CCMB will be able to leverage its innovation and advance COVID-19 research by democratising access to cell therapy as well as disease modeling platforms. The COVID-19 has claimed over 240,000 lives between December 2019 and April 2020 while nearly 3.5 million people have contracted the disease in over 180 countries. During that period India reported around 42,500 Coronavirus cases and 1,300 deaths. The pandemic is expected to cost the global economy as much as US$2 trillion in 2020.