Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says state’s fourth regional medical research center will isolate COVID-19


Live and viable SARS-CoV-2 can now be produced in the laboratory: Himanta Biswa Sarma


The Regional Center for Medical Research (CRRM) in Dibrugarh, Assam, has become the fourth laboratory in the country to successfully isolate the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can be used for the production of a COVID vaccine -19, said Minister of Health Himanta Biswa Sarma. Wednesday.

CRRM scientists isolated the COVID-19 virus from the VERO-CCL81 cell line at the BSL-3 level laboratory available at the institute, he told reporters.

CMRR is the third government laboratory in the country after the NIV, Pune; and CCMB, Hyderabad, to isolate the virus.

The other facility for this purpose is Bharat Biotech, a private biotechnology laboratory in Hyderabad.

Scientists used an immortal cell line VERO-CCL81, derived from renal epithelial cell lines of green African monkeys, which expresses the important ACE2 receptor that SARS-CoV-2 requires for cell entry, said Sarma citing researchers.

“Simply put, the importance of the isolation of the COVID-19 virus by CRRM’s team of scientists, Dibrugarh, is that living and viable SARS-CoV-2 can now be produced in the laboratory in abundance if necessary” , did he declare. .

This is important for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine where the laboratory-grown virus is inactivated by heat or a chemical and purified to be used as a vaccine after preclinical and clinical trials, he said.

Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with VNI Pune, which supplied the virus cultured in tissue culture, has developed an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine (COVAXIN) which will be used for phase I and II trials from July.

The COVID-19 virus, which is just over six months old, has spread to all human communities and scientists have now detected more than 10 strains in circulation around the world.

Originally, only two types of virus were noted, type L and type S, but type S disappears slowly.

The CMRR team also developed in April this year an internal test (TSP-PCR) to detect type L or S of the virus in three hours, said the minister.

It was found that all the strains circulating in Assam were type L, but now scientists have classified the virus into different clades (O, A1, A2a, A3, B, B1, etc.) which differ very carefully from the each other.

“The A2a clade is now the most dominant across the world, including India,” he said.

The ICMR-RMRC, located in Lahowal in Dibrugarh, supported the state of Assam and other northwestern states in the fight against COVID-19.

To date, the center has provided nearly 50,000 COVID-19 diagnostic test reports to residents of this region.


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