A day after announcing the world's largest infectious diseases testing lab here to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases, the IIT Alumni Council on Friday said it has partnered with Mumbai University for the mega lab project. The proposed MegaLab Mumbai, with a capacity to make as much as 1 crore tests a month, will be up and running from July with 1 lakh testing capabilities. It will reach full potential by early October, and will be the world's largest dedicated molecular diagnostic and genetic testing facility.
MegaLab Mumbai will work with the National Centre for Nanosciences and Nanotechnology and the Innovation and Incubation Centre of the Mumbai University.
"The IIT Alumni Council is honoured to have the Mumbai University as its partner for enabling a world-class healthcare infrastructure in Mumbai for testing infectious diseases including the new coronavirus which has become a pandemic now.
"Under the partnership, the students, the faculty and the research infrastructure of the university will act as the research backbone of the MegaLab project, which will be based on the end-to-end Kodoy indigenous technology stack and will have adequate capacity for testing the entire population of Mumbai for infectious diseases, each month," said Ravi Sharma, the council president.
Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Suhas Pednekar said, "Building on our strength in biotechnology and related research areas such as biosciences, we are now chartering a new path by partnering in a path breaking initiative promoted by the IIT Alumni Council to create one of the largest labs ever built for molecular diagnostic and genetic testing in Mumbai."
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
A global competition is underway to finalise more partners and also to identify the appropriate equipment sources, and consumable manufacturers.
To enable the creation of an entire ecosystem to support the path-breaking initiative, MegaLab Mumbai will be partnering with research-oriented institutions of national importance in Mumbai and Delhi, Sharma said.
The partnership with Mumbai University will ensure consistency, speed, quality and scale of MegaLab testing, he said.
The council has been on the forefront of catalysing and motivating students, professionals, corporates, startups and academicians to align their energies in the quest to find innovative, low-cost and rapidly scalable solutions for the pandemic.
The council has already developed 100 per cent indigenous kits which are in various stages of manufacturing and approvals so as to meet the entire requirement of developing countries, including India, China, Asean nations, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
MegaLab Mumbai is the biggest initiative of the council to date and aims to help design and establish the largest genetic testing laboratory for the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases like TB with an end-to-end capacity to carry out over 1 crore tests per month.
Ravindra Kulkarni, the pro-vice-chancellor of Mumbai University, said the varsity has an outstanding track record in the area of biological and medical sciences."Several doctors who are at the forefront in the fight against new coronavirus have been our alumni and we take pride in their contribution," he said.