CSIR-CCMB, CSIR-IICT collaborating on indigenous mRNA vaccine for COVID-19

CSIR-CCMB Director Dr. Vinay Kumar Nandicoori at the institute in Hyderabad.

CSIR-CCMB Director Dr. Vinay Kumar Nandicoori at the institute in Hyderabad.

CISR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) is working in collaboration with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and others on developing an indigenous mRNA vaccine. “It is going to take a while with rigorous development and testing before it can be brought out in the form of an injectable vaccine”, said its director Vinay Kumar Nandicoori.

“This has been started by my predecessor Rakesh Mishra and we are continuing the process, doing analyses, testing out multiple steps in the last few months like making the RNA, and packaging into lipid particles etc,” he explained. The director pointed out that although the mRNA vaccine making is not novel because two mRNA vaccines are already in use across the world to tackle the COVID pandemic —Moderna and Pfizer — it will nevertheless requires quite lot of work as the process has not been obtained from any company.

The premier scientific institute has been in the forefront right from the time the pandemic broke out in March 2020 working in validation of diagnostic kits, developing new technologies, testing for new drugs, training personnel and in genome sequencing. “We have worked heavily on genome sequencing and approximately 12% of all the sequences across the country have come out of CCMB,” he pointed out.

With generous funding from the INSACOG - Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, and others like Rockefeller and SBI Foundations, it has been able to utilize next generation sequencing platform “Novaseq” where 700-800 sequences can be done at a single shot and through another method of 'Nanopore' 50 sequences can be done in one go.

“In the recent past, we get most samples from Andhra Pradesh. These are travellers samples and genome sequencing is being done to identify Omicron cases among them”, he explained. Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) handles the Telangana and Hyderabad airport samples, said the top scientist.

Dr. Nandicoori said apart from working on improved diagnostics to test for new variants, testing new drugs and vaccinations, surveillance - genome sequencing, testing in air and sewage sampling maybe done consistently to get an idea about the spread of the infection and emergence of any new variants.

“Genome sequencing turnaround is about three - four days so by testing and genome sequencing of COVID positive samples, we can get information regarding the spread of new variants. Once we test for a certain number of samples, we will know the Omicron percentage in the general population,” explained the Director.

He advocates for the "whole world should get vaccinated" and "ensure as much vaccine coverage as possible before a more virulent variant than the Omicron comes from other parts of the world, challenging our immune system.”

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Printable version | May 28, 2022 4:45:02 am |