Published: 26th August 2021
IIT Bombay gets Rs 1.7 Cr grant to work on early identification of how severe COVID can be in a patient
The donation is for a period of two years and aims to aid the healthcare sector manage and handle caseloads in the future
The pandemic throws up unanswered questions everyday. When is the next wave coming? How severe is it going to be? Are we anywhere close to herd immunity? Why do reinfections happen? How effective are the vaccines? A handful of new studies prop up every week and attempt to answer those questions, but they often contradict each other, or are uncertain about their results because of the nature the pandemic has adopted.
However, research needs to go on. Only if we keep digging can we find the solutions. German pharmaceutical company Merck's India wing has announced that it will provide a two-year donation to facilitate research on COVID-19 in partnership with IIT Bombay. The studies will focus on detecting disease severity in the early stages and requires the development of immunoassays using Single Molecule Counting technology. The funding amounts to Rs 1.7 crore and apart from validation of biomarkers to discover COVID-19 severity at an early stage, it will also work on short-listing these biomarkers using AI so that prognosis can happen via an immunoassay panel. Merck India's Managing Director of Life Science Business, Sunil Punjabi said that the development of the immunoassays will aid the health management system deal with the cases in the country.
"Further clinical validation remains a challenge since highly advanced mass-spectrometry instruments are cumbersome to operate in clinical settings,” said Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay. “Validation using immunoassay platforms like single molecule counting (SMCTM) technology will be highly beneficial for rapid clinical translation. Our partnership with Merck is a natural next step in this direction and we are grateful to them for supporting our mission.”
The donation will also facilitate the set-up of Single Molecule Counting technology and protocols optimisation which can serve further clinical and drug-testing studies for tackling COVID.