Bio engineering Current Affairs - 2020

Funding approved by DST to develop Nasal Passage Gel for COVID-19

The Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and IIT Madras have developed a nasal passage gel that will inactivate COVID1-9. The funding to support the technology is to be provided by SERB (Science and Engineering Research Board), a statutory body operating under Department of Science and Technology.

What is the plan?

The team formed from the two institutes will work on two approaches. They are as follows

Plan I

Under one approach, the plan is to create a causative agent that will prevent the virus from binding to the host cells. This method will reduce the probability of the host cells being infected. Later the viruses are inactivated using a drug or other technology. This technology will only support prevention of binding.

Plan II

Another approach is to inactivate the virus by trapping them. This method traps the virus similar to that of detergents. Through the method, the team intends to develop gels that can be applied in the nasal cavity.

The technologies are to be completed in 9 months-time.

GoI launches 5 research projects to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

On April 3, 2020, the Government of India launched 5 research projects in order to control the spread of COVID-19. The projects neither focus on vaccines nor on medicines. GoI has been very clear and has also announced earlier that it is currently not into developing medicine for COVID-19. Rather the first priority is to mitigate the spread. The research projects were selected based on this plan.

The projects are to be supervised by the Department of Science and Technology

Project 1

The first project aims to search the metabolite biomarker signature for the virus. These markers will help in capturing the activities of the cell or an organism infected with the virus. This knowledge is base for developing potential drug for the vaccines

Project 2

The second project is to develop viricidal coatings that shall be used in surgical masks to prevent the spread of highly contagious viruses such as SARS, COVID-19, etc.

Project 3

The third project is to develop antiviral surface coatings to help prevent the spread of infections caused by influenza virus. The aim is to develop polymeric compounds that will be coated upon surfaces and will kill the viruses completely upon contact.

Project 4

The fourth project is to develop a material which when applied over surfaces will remove viruses and bacteria adhering to it.

Project 5

The fifth project is to develop antibody-based capture of COVID-19 and inactivate it using lipid based gel.

Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas Scheme

The projects have been launched under IRPHA scheme. The scheme is implemented by SERB, Science and Engineering Research Board. SERB operated under Department of Science and Technology. Apart from these 5 projects small projects like data driven approach to contain the spread of the virus is also being launched.