IIT Guwahati to develop vaccine with pharma company Hester Biosciences

Last Updated 29 April 2020, 12:19 IST

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati and Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company Hester Biosciences Limited have come together for developing a vaccine against coronavirus.

According to officials, the vaccine is expected to be ready by the end of this year to start animal studies and the work is currently in its early stage of development.

The team at IIT Guwahati headed by Sachin Kumar, an associate professor at the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, has generated the "recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 based vaccine flatform" for classical swine fever and japanese encephalitis.

The agreement between the institute and the pharmaceutical company was signed on April 15. The role of the institute will be to produce the recombinant vaccine candidate.

"The vaccine will be based on recombinant avian paramyxovirus based vector platform. The recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 will be used to express the immunogenic protein of SARS-CoV-2. The recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 protein could be used as a vaccine candidate for further study.

"It is too early to comment on the efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccine, however, we will be able to reveal more details about this vaccine after the results of animal studies are obtained," Kumar said.

According to Kumar, the avian paramyxovirus-1 has been explored as a vaccine vector for various animals and human pathogens.

"The avian paramyxovirus-1 has been used to express the immunogenic protein of human pathogens such as HIV, avian influenza virus, human parainfluenza virus, SARS-CoV. Similarly, it has also been explored as a vaccine vector for animal pathogens such as infectious bursal disease virus, infectious laryngotracheitis virus, bovine herpes virus, Nipah virus," he added.

Elaborating on the collaboration and role of Hester Biosciences Limited, its CEO and MD Rajiv Gandhi, said, "In the current pandemic situation of COVID-19, the world is looking at developing preventive and curative measures to safeguard mankind. We have collaborated to develop and manufacture a recombinant vaccine against COVID-19 disease as a preventive measure. Hester's involvement would be from master seed development up to release of the commercial vaccine."

Around the world, confirmed infections of coronavirus stood at more than 3.1 million - including 1 million in the US - and the confirmed global death toll topped 217,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

In India, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,007 and the number of cases climbed to 31,332 in the country on Wednesday, according to the Union Health Ministry. The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 22,629, while 7,695 people have recovered, and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.

(Published 29 April 2020, 12:17 IST)

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