Biotechnology, Covid-19

Let our knowledge guide us through the COVID-crisis

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”- Albert Einstein

“The Only Source of knowledge is Experience”- Albert Einstein

Hello Students and knowledge –seekers!

I won’t start talking about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic now. All of us know about it already! There is an onslaught of real and fake information that is bound to be overwhelming.  It is time to take a sane and rational decision based on scientific evidence.

In this situation, we are sitting at home, doing our daily chores. The only front-line fighters are our doctors-health workers-scientists and police. But while we are quarantined at home, there is a lot of productive ways we may be able to contribute. How? One way is to disseminate facts and scientific protocols that need to be adopted to keep us and our families secure. In the words of Einstein….imagination is important than knowledge! In this context, I want to talk to all the students and future generations of thought leaders who want to give back to society in this crisis.  The world is desperate to devise strategies to combat with COVID-19. Knowledge and ideas will be able to provide us deliverance and eventually redeem us!

Knowledge-based domains like Biotechnology & Molecular biology are guiding us to understand the nature of the virus, their weaknesses that can be exploited for their eradication. Finally, we can target this pandemic by blocking their reproduction, processing, and packaging. We can generate a vaccine that will enforce our immune system to fight back the intruder virus! In a nutshell, we need to know microbiology, molecular biology & biotechnology.

What you can do as a Biotechnology/Molecular Biology researcher to save the world from Corona pandemic:

  • Creating a testing apparatus
  • Immuno sequencing and machine learning
  • Cell-free manufacturing of glycosylated proteins
  • Develop vaccine

Another significant paradigm that needs to be investigated is in the domain of novel therapeutic intervention for COVID-19 and any future pandemic that may arise. New treatments are urgently needed to ameliorate this pandemic.  Traditional, as well as de novo drug design/development, is a time consuming and expensive process, and we need a rapid and inexpensive strategy so that therapy can be administered as swiftly as possible.

An alternative strategy is to repurpose existing drugs that can meet the current needs. The therapy can be developed using a single drug or a combination of two or more drugs, chosen very carefully to avoid any potential side effects. Some of the existing antiviral agents are already in clinical trials. Some of the potential repurposed anti-COVID drug candidates are Chloroquine and related hydroxychloroquine (anti-malarial drug), favipiravir (used for the treatment of Influenza), IFN-β (a drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or COPD), Ritonavir (medicine for HIV), some antibiotics such as Azithromycin, Oritavancin, etc. These drugs have already been successfully used in the treatment of COVID-19 positive patients. Many more combination of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs is under investigation. Hence there is ample opportunity for us to contribute in a meaningful way as biotechnologists.  All it requires is the intent of purpose and resolve. If we put in the collective effort we will be able to overcome this difficult phase in our civilization and we will be able to come out of this stronger as a community and civilization.

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