It will operate a facility planned at State Public Health Laboratory in Chennai
A six-member team of the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine is undergoing training in next generation sequencing (NGS) in Bengaluru. The team members will operate an NGS facility that is being planned at the DPH’s State Public Health Laboratory in Chennai.
Director of Public Health T. S. Selvavinayagam said the team included a microbiologist, a biochemist, a biotechnologist and a doctor from the DPH. “We are planning to establish an NGS facility at the State Public Health Laboratory; hence, a team has been deputed for training. This would enable us to identify the variants of COVID-19 quickly,” he said. “We have huge potential for Whole Genome Sequencing and bioinformatics in public health, and we will be exploring those areas too in future.”
The State has been sending samples lifted from clusters for whole genome sequencing to the Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (InStem), Bengaluru, in order to identify the novel coronavirus variants.
Opening a facility in Chennai would also help to reduce the waiting time for results.
Even after the facility was readied at the State Public Health Laboratory, the State would continue to send samples to InStem, depending on its own capacity for sequencing, Dr. Selvavinayagam said. “Depending on the required number of samples to be tested, we will take a call on whether we need to continue to send samples to Bengaluru or our facility itself would be sufficient.”
In a post on Twitter, Bangalore Life Science Cluster (BLiSC), a centre of interdisciplinary biology research comprising the National Centre for Biological Sciences, InStem, and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, said personnel from DPH, Chennai, were undergoing a five-day training programme on NGS techniques on its campus. This was part of a nationwide effort to facilitate greater genomic surveillance to fight COVID-19.
BLiSC graduate students and staff were training the DPH personnel in computational analysis. The six individuals would return to operate the newly established NGS facility to monitor the novel coronavirus variants. It said this was a great example of institutional cooperation to equip the nation in the fight against COVID-19.
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