The programme brings together academia – National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, industry – PredOmix Technologies, Gurugram, Bharat Biotech in collaborative mode for public health emergency
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under its flagship programme NMITLI has sanctioned a project to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for COVID-19 infections.
The project is being led by Bharat Biotech. This programme brings together academia – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune and Indian Institute of Technology, Indore and industry – PredOmix Technologies, Gurugram and Bharat Biotech in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency.
Although efforts are underway for the development of drugs and vaccines for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, these are slow and expensive processes with uncertainties. Therefore, an alternate therapeutic regimen for early deployment is critical.
The present project aims at such an alternate therapeutic regimen by generating highly effective and specific human monoclonal antibodies that are capable of neutralising the SARS-CoV2 virus. Such virus-neutralising antibodies can block the spread of infection by binding to the virus and rendering it ineffective. Monoclonal antibody therapy is a highly effective and safe method.
Expressing his happiness on receiving CSIR-NMITLI approval of the project, Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech said, “The purpose of vaccination is to protect the healthy against future infections and it alone may not provide the complete solution. We feel the monoclonal antibody therapy will provide a viable option.”
“The question is of how to treat those individuals who are already infected? plus, we do not yet know how effective an anti-SARS-CoV2 vaccine will be in the elderly people and those with comorbidities. Given the large number of Indians suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases, this becomes an important issue,” Dr Ella added.
Talking about the novel antibodies approach to deal with COVID-19 Pandemic Dr Ella stated, “While both Israel and The Netherlands have recently announced the development of virus-neutralising antibodies, our approach is to develop a powerful cocktail of neutralising antibodies that can also simultaneously block mutational variants of the virus. We are fast-tracking the development process, to make the antibodies available within the next six months and thus improve the treatment efficacy.”