Home India The IIT Bombay professor develops a method for measuring Covid-19 severity

The IIT Bombay professor develops a method for measuring Covid-19 severity

The IIT Bombay professor develops a method for measuring Covid-19 severity

Currently, there is no way to predict how severe the symptoms of an infected person could become. Gold standard RT-PCR test can only tell whether a person is infected or not. Merck has provided funding of Rs 1.75 crore to create a Centre of Excellence at IIT.

Key Highlights

  • Gold standard RT-PCR test can only tell whether a person is infected or not.
  • Merck has provided funding of Rs 1.75 crore to create a Centre of Excellence at IIT.
  • Scientists investigated the binding efficiency of 29 FDA-approved, nine clinical, and 20 pre-clinical trial drugs to the proteins in the lab.
  • They discovered several drug candidates and small molecules that could potentially bind to and inhibit the important proteins.

With one of the world’s top pharmaceutical corporations starting to engage with the IIT team to build a commercial diagnosis tool, a technique developed by an Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay professor could lead to such a detection kit.

There is no way to foresee how severe an infected person’s symptoms may become at this time. The gold standard RT-PCR test can only tell you if you’re infected or not, but it can’t tell you how serious the infection is.

The IIT team, led by Sanjeeva Srivastava from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, has identified six proteins that could distinguish severe Covid-19 patients from non-severe Covid-19 patients in collaboration with medical researchers at Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai. They also created a mass spectrometry assay for detecting such proteins in swab samples.

“We’ve partnered with Merck to develop a simple diagnostic kit based on our patented technique because mass spectrometers are prohibitively expensive for hospitals to utilize,” Srivastava explained.

The corporation has invested Rs 1.75 crore in IIT to establish a Centre of Excellence for the development of the kit.

“With this donation, Merck is assisting IIT in the early detection of Covid-19 viral severity to support appropriate healthcare management,” Sunil Punjabi, Merck India’s Life Science Business MD, said after signing an agreement with the IIT last month.

The researchers compared 11 non-severe patient samples to 13 very ill patients. They discovered six proteins that could help them distinguish between severe and non-severe Covid-19 patients.

The half-dozen proteins are part of a broader set of 25 proteins discovered in all Covid-19 patients’ swab samples.

A mass spectrometer can be used to test the collection of 25 proteins as a main diagnostic tool. Despite this, the researchers are hesitant to explore such a method because there are currently cheaper diagnostic options.

Rather, such proteins could be used as therapeutic targets. The scientists investigated the binding efficiency of 29 FDA-approved, nine clinical, and 20 pre-clinical trial drugs to the proteins in the lab, and discovered several drug candidates and small molecules that could potentially bind to and inhibit the important proteins, according to a study published in the journal iScience.

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