NEW DELHI: BRICS countries are working on a programme to study the impact of severe COVID-19 conditions on tuberculosis (TB) patients, the Department of Biotechnology said on Monday.
The SARS-CoV-2 NGS (Next Generation Sequencing)-BRICS consortium is an interdisciplinary collaboration to advance COVID-19 health-relevant knowledge and to contribute to improvements in health outcomes, it said.
The consortium, comprising researchers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), will accelerate translation of genomic data from clinical and surveillance samples, the government's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said.
This will be done utilising high-end genomic technologies, and epidemiologic and bioinformatics tools and this information will be used in diagnostic assays and tracking transmission dynamics of COVID-19 and other viruses, as well as lead to clinical and public health research and interventions, it said.
"The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, in collaboration with BRICS countries is implementing the SARS-CoV-2 NGS-BRICS consortium and multi-centric programme to study the impact of severe COVID-19 conditions on TB patients," the DBT said.
The Indian team has members from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (Prof. Arindam Maitra, Prof. Saumitra Das, Dr. Nidhan K Biswas), the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (Dr. Ashwin Dalal) and the Indian Institute of Science (Dr. Mohit K Jolly), it said.
Dr. Ana Tereza Ribeiro de Vasconcelos of Brazil's National Laboratory for Scientific Computation, Prof. Georgii Bazykin of Russia's Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Prof. Mingkun Li of China's Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Prof. Tulio de Oliveira of South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal are the other members of the consortium, the DBT said.
In a second multi-centric programme, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from India, Brazil and South Africa will investigate the impact of severe COVID-19 on transient peripheral immunosuppression and lung hyperinflammation conditions in TB patients for epidemiology and comorbidity, the department said.
This team consists of members from the India's National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (Dr. Subash Babu, Dr. Anuradha Rajamanickam, Dr. Banurekha Velayutham and Dr. Dina Nair).
Besides them, the members from Brazil are Dr. Valeria Cavalcanti Rolla and Dr. Adriano Gomes da Silva of the Lapclin-Tb/ INI-FIOCRUZ, Dr. Maria Cristina Lourenço of the LBB/INI-FIOCRUZ and Dr. Bruno de Bezerril Andrade from IGM-FIOCRUZ; and from South Africa are researchers Dr. Bavesh Kana, Dr. Bhavna Gordhan, Dr. Neil Martinson and Dr. Ziyaad Waja of the University of the Witwatersrand, the DBT said.
"This collaborative study is expected to provide valuable co-morbidity data pertaining to pulmonary TB patients with or without COVID-19 co-infection that is expected to be generated for better disease management," it said.
Secretary in the DBT Renu Swarup said the department has taken small steps in the right direction towards collaboration with BRICS countries.