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Genomic surveillance in Pune: Sassoon, Symbiosis among hospitals shortlisted for collection of patient’s samples

Facilitated by the Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC), CSIR-NCL and IISER Pune, along with their clinical partners, have initiated work on genomic surveillance in Pune on the strength of access to granular epidemiological and clinical data.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: May 23, 2021 11:24:18 am
A guard outside Sassoon Hospital in Pune. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre)

Sassoon Hospital and Symbiosis Hospital are among hospitals in Pune that are being shortlisted for collection of Covid-19 patients’ samples for genomic sequencing.

Facilitated by the Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC), CSIR-NCL and IISER Pune, along with their clinical partners, have initiated work on genomic surveillance in Pune on the strength of access to granular epidemiological and clinical data.

“This will supplement and complement the efforts of the Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) on viral genome surveillance,” Prof L S Shashidhara, coordinator at the Pune Knowledge Cluster, told The Indian Express.

With better sampling strategy, scientists not only propose to identify new variants, they hope to derive correlations to understand the transmission and fatality dynamics, and to monitor in real-time vaccine breakthrough mutations, he said.

They will also sequence viral strains from individuals who had a second infection to identify any escapers of host immune response. The same group has taken up immunological studies in parallel, which is complementary to this study and brings in knowledge of host factors that impact the clinical outcomes of the infection and spread of the virus, Prof Shashidhara said.

 

The main vision of the project is immunophenotyping of individuals post vaccination to delineate the immune response across a longitudinal cohort and develop a database of these responses. This helps to identify people who are at high risk for infections and those who need additional vaccination even after the current strategy of two doses.

Prof Shashidhara earlier gave an overview on ‘Science to fight Covid 19 and cancer : perspectives from Pune’ at a webinar organised by the Pune International Centre.

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Recently, B J Government Medical College was included as one of the centres for genomic surveillance. Scientists have said that the B.1.617.2 variant of SARS-CoV2 was beginning to take over and was the dominant one in the country. At INSACOG, efforts are underway to include different laboratories for genomic surveillance and to try to connect mutations with severity of the disease.

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