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HyderabadHyderabad-based CCMB leads labs to detect Omicron variant

Hyderabad-based CCMB leads labs to detect Omicron variant

Published: 3rd Dec 2021 10:01 pm

Hyderabad: Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is leading the consortium of genetic laboratories involved in the genome sequencing of Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV-2.

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The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which detected the two Omicron positive cases in Bengaluru is also the part of the consortium of laboratories that perform genomic surveillance at four Indian metros including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Pune.

A few months ago, the consortium led by CCMB had entered into a collaboration with Rockfeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute to take up genome sequencing of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 that get reported across the world. Senior geneticist and former Director of CCMB Dr R K Mishra, who had played a vital role in lauching the consortium, said, “The consortium is continuously monitoring the situation in all the four cities and has scaled up its efforts to sequence as many samples as possible. The group of laboratories are focused on scaling up genomic surveillance as part of national efforts led by the INSACOG, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The consortium intensified its sequencing efforts after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Omicron as a Variant of Concern (VoC). It enabled the Bengaluru team at the NCBS, a member laboratory of INSACOG, in collaboration with Strand Life Sciences and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), to detect, rapidly sequence and verify the existence of the Omicron variant in samples from two Covid infected individuals.

The genome sequencing by NCBS and subsequent announcement by the MOHFW was done within four days of receiving the samples from international passengers. Both SARS-CoV-2 genomes have also been uploaded to the global repository for SARS-CoV-2 sequences, GISAID, so that they can be publicly available to the scientific community.

Apart from CCMB and NCBS, the consortium includes Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi, Pune Knowledge Cluster, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune and National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.

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