DBT to establish 4 COVID-19 Bio Banks for facilitating research & innovation

The four Bio Repositories under the purview of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) are NCR-Biotech Science Cluster including THSTI, Faridabad – Clinical samples and RCB Faridabad –Viral samples; Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar;  InStem, Bangalore;  and ILBS, New Delhi.

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New Delhi: Since the specimens collected from COVID-19 positive subjects can be a valuable resource for R&D efforts to develop vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, the NITI Aayog has recently issued guidelines for the sharing of biospecimens and data for research in this regard.

As per the directives of the Cabinet Secretary, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has notified 16 bio-repositories for collecting, storing and maintaining clinical samples including oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swabs, bronchoalveolar lavage, sputum, blood, urine, and stool of COVID-19 patients. A total of 16 Bio Repositories has been enlisted including nine at ICMR institutes, four at the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) institutes, and three at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) affiliated institutes.

The four Bio Repositories under the purview of the DBT are NCR-Biotech Science Cluster including THSTI, Faridabad – Clinical samples and RCB Faridabad –Viral samples; Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar;  InStem, Bangalore;  and ILBS, New Delhi.

These designated facilities will develop uniform Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for sample collection, transportation, aliquoting, storage, and sharing. The role of bio-banks for COVID-19 samples would be the development of a vaccine and treatments; guidance regarding handling, including nasopharyngeal swabs; and conditions under which the higher BSL-3 practices should be followed for example, when working with cultures of the coronavirus specimens.

Oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swabs, bronchoalveolar lavage, sputum, blood, urine, and stool of COVID19 patients will be collected and archived for future use to develop validated diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

The DBT would be supporting these COVID-19 designated Bio-bank facilities through a well-strategized future plan so that novel technological interventions can be developed in due course of time. These designated biorepositories will use the clinical samples for R&D purposes in their respective Institutes.

In addition, they are also authorized to share the samples with academia, industry and commercial entities involved in development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines after scrutinizing the purpose of the request and ensuring benefit to the country.