India bio-banking sector to see robust growth amid covid-192 min read . Updated: 16 Sep 2020, 05:37 PM IST
- Covid-19 bio-repositories have collected more than 40,000 samples which have been made available to researchers and industry for developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines
New Delhi: The bio-banking sector in India that was marred by ethical issues and infrastructural challenges is expected to witness a robust growth in coming years amid increased investment in research to develop covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has notified 16 bio-repositories for collecting, storing and maintaining clinical samples, including oropharyngeal/ nasopharyngeal swabs, broncheoalveolar lavage, sputum, blood, urine and stool, of covid-19 patients. The samples from covid-19 patients will be collected and archived for future use to develop validated diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines etc.
“Covid-19 bio-repositories have collected more than 40,000 samples which have been made available to researchers and industry for developing diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines," said Harsh Vardhan, union health minister. 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 highest growth due to increased investment in pharma and emerging diseases such as covid-19.
The Department of Biotechnology would support 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 bio repositories will use the clinical samples for R&D purpose in their respective institutes, the government has said.
In addition, they are also authorized to share the samples with academia, industry and commercial entities involved in development of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines etc., after scrutinising the purpose of the request and ensuring benefit to the country.
Sharing of bio-specimens, both clinical and viral, is going to be key for new technology and product development by researchers, startups and industry, a critical step in the journey towards becoming an Atma Nirbhar Bharat, said officials at the department of biotechnology.
“Covid-19 doesn't affect everyone the same way-- some remain asymptomatic, some develop milder 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 & Technology (DST), adding that both established industries and startups will hugely benefit by this initiative.
“India’s research space has struggled with establishing Biobanks and the concept wasn’t embraced by scientists, clinicians and researchers. Max has one of the first biobanks in the country in the private sector with over 10000 samples stored in the Diabetes and metabolic disease area," said Vinitaa Malhotra Jha, Senior Vice President, Clinical Directorate, Max Healthcare.
“Covid-19 has brought to light the importance of bio-banking, its role in understanding disease patterns and its utility in developing vaccines and other prevention and treatment protocols. With the government now focussing on bio-banks and repositories we hope that regulators will support this endeavour by working on easing approvals. This will also help build the PPP model in bio-banking and be able to attract international partnerships and India centric data. covid-19 has brought to the forefront the significance of bio-banks in India," she added.