THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union Minister of Science and Technology and Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan has cautioned people that lowering the guard against Covid-19 at this juncture will be dangerous, though the daily caseload has declined sharply. “We have managed the Covid-19 crisis commendably. But it will be unwise to lower our guard. This virus is still around and it could even mutate to create a more dangerous situation. This means that people should continue to maintain social distancing to insulate themselves from getting infected by the virus,” he said. He was addressing the 13th general body meeting of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) through video conferencing.
The second campus of the RGCB coming up at Akkulam in Thiruvananthapuram will be developed as a major facility for cancer therapy research, said the minister. Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Diseases in Cancer and Viral Infection is the name of the campus and a special function would be organised to name the campus on completion of phase 1.
The new campus wil have a National Centre for Drug Target Design and Development (Therapeutic Antibodies and Biosimilars), National Centre for Molecular Medicine, RGCB Spin-off companies and bio incubators and a new initiative in tumour immunology and immunotherapy with clinical centres of Kerala, said RGCB Director Dr Chandrabhas Narayana. The facility being established on its Akkulam campus will support RGCB to undertake natural product-based drug discovery using live virus and carry out research on any emerging pathogen requiring high containment.
This facility will be a boost to the state in managing highly pathogenic viral and bacterial diseases, as currently there is no BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3)-plus facility in the state. This unique facility will also support their new research programme to develop new generation protein and nucleic acid-based vaccines.