Success of new research projects crucial in containing community spread of COVID-19 in India, says Globaldata
The Department of Science and Technology - Science and Engineering Board (DST-SERB) has recently initiated several special research projects. These efforts could help contain community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in India, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
According to GlobalData COVID-19 dashboard, as of 05 May 2020, India has 46,437 confirmed cases and the dashboard forecasts 1,61,413 confirmed cases in India in a low transmission risk scenario by 17 May 2020.
The main objectives of these projects are to develop solutions to reduce community transmission and identify novel targets with the help of metabolite biomarkers.
The first set of four projects focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19. This includes the development of viricidal coatings for inanimate surfaces used in healthcare settings; small molecular and polymeric compound-based antiviral surface coatings that can kill respiratory viruses instantly upon contact; disinfecting materials to remove any adhering viruses or bacteria; and antibody-based capture of COVID-19 and its inactivation using lipid-based in situ gel at the point of entry.
Krishna Srinivasaraghavan, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says: “It is important that these projects are fast-tracked and scaled-up, as application of these products will greatly help in preventing the community spread of infection through contact, especially to prevent the second-wave of COVID-19 infection.”
The second set of projects primarily focuses on identifying potential metabolite biomarkers that aid in the discovery of novel targets. Recent research led by the Dr. Krogan at Gladstone Institute, showed that 332 human proteins were discovered that interacted with COVID-19 proteins, and 67 of those proteins could be used as targets for new drugs or potential drug-repurposing.
Srinivasaraghavan concludes: “Identification of novel metabolic biomarkers for COVID-19 will help in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which the new coronavirus infects human cells. This could lead to development of novel drug candidates. Metabolite biomarkers can also be combined with genetic or other biomarkers, and clinical variables for rapid diagnosis, predict the prognosis and risks associated with COVID-19, especially in elderly and immunocompromised population.
“The initiatives by DST-SERB will add to the efforts of the Indian government in fighting COVID-19, which has implemented a systematic country-wide lockdown, traced and quarantined infected people utilizing gigantic surveillance network to control the community spread of COVID-19 to a greater extent. Moreover, India’s decision to use rapid antibody tests in COVID clusters despite WHO’s advised against it, will help understand the extent of spread of infection and to take necessary control measures.”