2022-05-16| COVID-19

India’s CSIR-CCMB Reveals Homegrown mRNA Vaccine

by Joy Lin
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India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology have announced the development of a homegrown mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The technology used to create the candidate is said to be indigenous and devoid of technology contributions from elsewhere. 


Preclinical Studies Underway for Vaccine Candidate


The team at the Atal Incubation Center-CCMB (AIC-CCMB) led the development of the candidate. 

“We observed robust immune response against SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in mice, upon administration of two doses of the mRNA. The anti-Spike antibodies generated were found to be more than 90% efficient in preventing the human ACE2 receptor binding to the coronavirus,” said Dr Rajesh Iyer, a scientist involved in the project. 

The candidate is currently undergoing preclinical studies to evaluate its efficacy to protect against live virus infection. 

Related articles: Highlights of US Pharma Biotech Summit 2022


mRNA Vaccines in Development in India


While CSIR-CCMB has laid claim to developing the first indigenous mRNA vaccine technology in India, other companies in the country are racing to bring their own mRNA vaccine candidates to the public. 

Zydus Cadila, the developer of the world’s first DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, stated plans to start trials on an mRNA-based candidate last September. 

Preceding Zydus Cadila are Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, the first Indian company to begin the mRNA in the country, and Biological E, which has teamed up with Canada-based Providence Therapeutics for the effort. 

Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, is exploring the mRNA vaccine platform with Bengaluru-based Biocon Biological.


Homegrown Vaccine Technology With Broader Applications


Speaking to a press conference at the CCMB, Dr. Vijay Nandicoori, Director of CCMB, said the developed vaccine technology is based on the Moderna model, but has been built with information available in the open and the institution’s own technology and materials. 

Dr. Madhusudhana Rao, CEO of AIC-CCMB, added that the mRNA vaccine technology differs from the mRNA vaccine being developed by Gennova Bio, which uses self-replicating RNA. 

Beyond COVID-19, there could be other applications for the mRNA vaccine platform. 

“The beauty of this technology is in its modularity and rapid turn-around times. That means with significantly less efforts, the developed technology can be used to sire vaccines for other infectious diseases like dengue, tuberculosis or malaria,” said Dr. Nandicoori. 

Dr. Nandicoori added that CSIR, the largest R&D organization in India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, is taking steps to increase the country’s capacity in modern health technologies so as to ensure self-reliance.

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