Virus: Bharat Biotech-led group to develop human antibodies

Hyderabad, May 8 (PTI): The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has sanctioned a project to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for COVID-19 infections.

The project was sanctioned by CSIRunder its flagship programme NMITLI (New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative) to a consortium led by Bharat Biotech, a vaccine-maker.

The programme brings together Pune-based National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), and Indian Institute of Technology, Indore, and Gurgaon-based PredOmix Technologies, and city-based Bharat Biotech in a collaborative mode for a public health emergency, Bharat Biotech said in a statement.

Although efforts are underway for the development of drugs and vaccines for controlling COVID-19, they are slow and expensive processes with uncertainties. Therefore, an alternate therapeutic regimen for early deployment is critical, the statement said.

The project aims at such an alternate therapeutic regimen by generating highly effective and specific human monoclonal antibodies that can neutralise the SARS-CoV2 virus and such antibodies can block the spread of infection by binding to the virus and rendering it ineffective, it said.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a highly effective and safe method, the statement said.

Chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech Krishna Ellasaid 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 and those with co-morbidities. Given the large number of Indians suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases, this becomes an important issue, Ella said.

Though Israel and The Netherlands have recently announced the development of virus-neutralising antibodies, the consortiums 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, he added. PTI GDK NVG NVG