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Medics conduct COVID-19 rapid antigen testing (PTI)
Medics conduct COVID-19 rapid antigen testing (PTI)

Bio banking sector likely to see robust growth due to pandemic

Covid-19 bio repositories have collected over 40,000 samples, and have made them available to researchers

Once hobbled by ethical issues and infrastructure challenges, bio banks are expected to notch up robust growth as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Much of the research to overcome covid-19 is directed at developing vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and specimens collected from covid-19 patients can be a valuable resource aiding these efforts.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has notified 16 bio-repositories, or bio banks, for collecting, storing and maintaining clinical samples of covid-19 patients. These include oral and nasalswabs, broncheoalveolar lavage (lungs washing), sputum, blood, urine and stool.

“Covid-19 bio repositories have collected more than 40,000 samples, which have been made available to researchers and the industry for developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines," said health minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday. NITI Aayog in May issued guidelines for sharing of bio specimens and data for research related to covid-19.

According to recent reports, the bio banking industry is anticipated to grow at 7.5% CAGR from 2019 to 2030, with Asia-Pacific estimated to account for the biggest market due to increased investment in pharma and fighting emerging diseases such as covid-19. The department of biotechnology will support these covid-19 bio banks to help develop novel technological interventions.

These bio banks are authorized to share the samples with academia, industry and commercial entities involved in development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

Sharing of clinical and viral specimens will be key to new technology and product development by researchers, startups and industry, and a critical step in India’s journey toward self-sufficiency, said department of biotechnology officials.

“Covid-19 doesn’t affect everyone the same way—some remain asymptomatic, some develop mild or moderate symptoms and in others, progression to severe stages and even death happens. Analysis of bio bank samples may provide vital clues to these questions and thus open new avenues for advanced diagnostics and therapeutics," said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology.

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