Hyderabad: Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) will lead a consortium comprising top genetic research institutions from four city clusters – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Pune – to track the emergence of viral variants correlated to epidemiological dynamics and clinical outcomes.
The consortium has been established with support and seed funding from Rockefeller Foundation, to upscale SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomic surveillance and complement the national efforts led by India SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG).
The consortium aims at developing targeted sampling strategies based on granular epidemiological and clinical data and coupled with intense environmental surveillance and advanced computational techniques, it will also focus on building capabilities for real-time surveillance and epidemiology.
The consortium led by CCMB, presently includes partners in three other cities including NCBS-TIFR, InStem-DBT and NIMHANS in Bengaluru, CSIR-IGIB in New Delhi, Pune Knowledge Cluster, IISER-Pune and CSIR-NCL in Pune.
The group of institutions will work closely with local governments, hospitals and clinicians. In collaboration with INSACOG, the consortium aims to eventually make this a national effort by expanding to other strategic locations in India. Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor at CSIR-CCMB will lead these efforts along with Prof Satyajit Mayor, NCBS, Prof LS Shashidhara, Pune Knowledge Cluster and Dr Anurag Agrawal, CSIR-IGIB.
“Our aim is to develop strategies and capabilities to identify Variants of Concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks. This will also help correlate with clinical symptoms and disease severity, potentially associated with emerging variants,” the team says.
Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CSIR-CCMB adds, “All the partner institutes have been fighting Covid-19 since its very beginning in the country. This much-needed collaboration will bring all their strengths together in a structured fashion.”