Department of Biotechnology’s public sector undertaking Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has entered into a partnership with Invest India to seek CSR Funds for its COVID-19 Research Consortium.
The consortium has been set up with a view to accelerate development of diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics and re-purposing of drugs for this novel coronavirus. There is limited current level of knowledge about the new virus. Critical research questions need to be answered urgently, and ways have to be found to fund priority research that can contribute to curtail this outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks.
Project proposals submitted under the call must take into account the criteria for affordability, wide-spread adoption and have a realistic possibility for scale-up. The scope of the consortium is inclusive of, and not exhaustive of, the following areas:
Diagnostics: To develop technologies/assays/components for diagnosis of coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 including diagnostic methods such as ELISA, Lateral Flow assay, Molecular diagnostics (PCR, Real Time PCR), Colorimetric tests, Chemiluminescence, Immunoassays, cell culture.
Vaccines: Vaccine technology platforms, novel vaccine manufacturing technologies, vaccine candidates and enabling disciplines for corona virus vaccine development. Type of candidate vaccine can be DNA, RNA, Live Attenuated Virus, Non-Replicating Viral Vector, Protein Subunit, and Replicating Viral Vector at any stage of development. In-licensing technology for optimization, scale-up and manufacturing can also be considered.
Novel Therapeutics: To develop in-vitro assay/animal models and standardized challenge studies; screen existing libraries (biologicals and chemicals) and identify potential hits for development; and come up with Novel methods of B-cell isolation/monoclonal antibody development.
Repurposing of Drugs: Develop prophylaxis clinical studies and prioritize in healthcare workers, and evaluate existing marketed drugs under a standard protocol in COVID-19 patients.
BIRAC has also extended the time for receiving proposals under the consortium to May 15. It has so far received 463 applications. These are under review.