Harsh Vardhan: New campus of RGCB to focus on cancer therapy research

Union Minister says Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology association with cancer hospitals in Kerala is expected to facilitate advanced cell-based therapy against cancer at affordable cost

March 05, 2021 07:58 pm | Updated 08:20 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan

The upcoming second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) at Akkulam here will be developed as a major facility for translational applications of immunotherapy and development of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said.

Addressing the 13th general body meeting of RGCB over a video-conferencing network, Dr. Vardhan said RGCB’s close association with multiple cancer hospitals in Kerala was expected to facilitate the advanced cell-based therapy against cancer at affordable cost. A lead anti-cancer molecule discovered by scientists at RGCB had been licensed to a multinational company and was in the final stages of pre-clinical testing at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in the US, he said.

The BSL3 plus facility being established at the Akkulam campus would undertake natural product-based drug discovery using live virus and carry out research on any emerging pathogen requiring high containment. The facility would be a big boost for Kerala in managing highly pathogenic viral and bacterial diseases as currently there is no BSL3 plus facility in the State. The unique facility would also support new research programme to develop new generation protein and nucleic acid-based vaccines, the Minister said.

Scientific challenges

“India has demonstrated before the entire world its prowess in the frontier areas of scientific and technological research. Our institutions have contributed immensely in addressing the unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19, by imbibing the spirit of ‘Atmanirbharata,” he said.

“It is also significant that these path-breaking research activities are taking place when the country has successfully rolled out one of history’s largest vaccine outreach. This massive exercise has made it clear that the nation is capable of taking up serious scientific challenges,” he added.

The Minister, however, cautioned that lowering the guard against Covid-19 at this juncture would be dangerous, even though the daily caseload was on the decline.

The action taken report for 2019-20, placed before the general body, said a function would be organised to name the second campus at Akkulam as ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Diseases in Cancer and Viral Infection’ on completion of the phase 1.

In his presentation, RGCB Director Dr. Chandrabhas Narayana said the campus would have a National Centre for Drug Target Design and Development (Therapeutic Antibodies and Biosimilars), National Centre for Molecular Medicine besides spin-off companies and bio incubators.

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