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HYDERABAD: Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) researchers have isolated coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the lab’s ability to culture it will enable the scientists to work on vaccine development and test potential drugs to fight Covid-19.

In the past one-and-half month, CCMB researchers have established stable cultures of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, from the samples of positive patients. CCMB would donate the virus culture to other authorised centres carrying on research on coronavirus-related vaccines and drugs.

Dr Krishnan H Harshan, a virologist at CCMB said: “Currently, primary epithelial cells generated from human origin do not grow for many generations in labs, which is a key to culturing viruses continuously. Labs which are growing the virus need an ‘immortal’ cell line”. Vero cells — kidney epithelial cell lines from African green monkey, which express ACE-2 proteins and carry a mutation that allows viruses to proliferate indefinitely— are used.”

CCMB said the efficacy of inactivated SARS-CoV-2 as a vaccine candidate was currently being investigated by several groups. CCMB director Dr Rakesh Mishra said: “Using the vero cell lines to grow the coronavirus, CCMB is now in a position to isolate and maintain viral strains from different regions. We are working towards producing viruses in huge quantities that can be inactivated, and used in vaccine development and antibody production for therapeutic purposes.”

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