Covid-19

Laboratory resource solutions for COVID-19 research

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost all the sectors of the public domain including the healthcare and research sectors. Scientists are working extremely hard to decode the mysterious SARS-CoV-2 virus so as to find a solution to curb the pandemic through appropriate vaccines and antiviral drugs. Research, especially for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, requires the following: animal models, biological vectors, human specimens, special reagents, antibodies, antigens, equipment for assays and PCR. 

There is a shortage of these components as the constant rise of cases per day is weighing the healthcare sector down. The rapidly spreading acting nature of the virus has also exhausted several of the funding required for researching the pandemic. To this end, several companies and universities have set up portals online which can provide direct information about the available resources for COVID-19 research.

Science Exchange, established in 2011, is one such portal that is currently working to make these resources readily available. With the help of their provider network, Science Exchange aims to empower labs all over the world to continue their research on COVID-19, without any obstacles or delay. They have resources on the following necessities:

  1. Animal Models: animal models play an important role in the pre-clinical trial stage of a vaccine or a drug. These models are also required to study the possible immune implications which can then be correlated to humans. 
  2. Human Biospecimens such as convalescent plasma, serum, blood, sputum organ tissue samples all of which can be used to detect specific biomarkers of the virus. 
  3. Virology services: equipment for viral purification, pseudovirus, tests to analyse host-pathogen interactions all of which can help understand the infectivity of the virus as well as serve as targets for antiviral therapeutic agents. 
  4. All the necessary components of Vaccine Development such as vectors, phasmids, cosmids, phages, restriction enzymes, gene therapy vectors and vaccine efficiency screening.  
  5. Antigen-Antibody interaction is the basis of defence against infection. Tools for purification of SARS-CoV-2 antigens such as the Spike Proteins, finding out the epitopes on the antibodies against the virus, identifying the type of antibody against the various parts of the virus can help come up with possible immunotherapies. 
  6. Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus is an RNA virus, sequencing its RNA can give us a better idea about the possible mutations and sites for vaccine targets. 
  7. Quantitative PCR is the gold standard for testing the presence of viral load from a given sample, which can help in SARS-CoV-2 detection and transcription profiling. 
  8. Immunoassays like ELISA detect the presence of proteins or antibodies in the blood of the patient to help understand the immune response to the infection.

PubMed is a free search engine tool that helps in accessing paper publication and literature on several relevant scientific topics. The site has a full section dedicated to Coronavirus research which encompasses related literature and databases for many COVID-19 clinical resources such as:

  1. All possible information on the Clinical Trials for various experimental therapies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is available on ClinicalTrials.gov.
  2. Database on Genotypes (genetic makeup) and Phenotypes (physical manifestations) for the virus via the ddGaP Advanced Search.
  3. All the COVID-19 testing strategies found in the Genetic Testing Registry.
  4. The chemicals and reagents approved by ClinicalTrials.gov used for Clinical Trials are available on PubChem.
  5. Up-to-date genome studies on the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as its interactions with the human genome on Gene.

Resources are also provided by The Coronavirus Resource Centre of Johns Hopkins University, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Cardinal Health (provides the laboratory protocols, virus transport mediums, transport and storage for the samples), ICGEB– International Centre for Genetic engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi (provides sequencing services and reagents for preparing positive controls) etc.

The availability of these resources can help to enable the studies on the ever-elusive SARS-CoV-2 to continue without any hiccups. This is especially beneficial for all the researchers and scientists that are unable to procure the necessary items locally.  

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