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Hyderabad-based biotech startup OncoSeek Bio has been selected for funding from the state-run Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) for developing a potential cure for the Covid-19 virus.
Incubated at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), OncoSeek Bio will develop an in vitro lung organoids. These organoids are simply a 3D tissue-engineered mini lung which has the capacity to replicate the aspects of lung tissues. Organoids can help researchers to find drugs for better treatment of Covid-19.
Founder and CEO of OncoSeek Bio Suresh Poosala said that the current animal models available for research on Covid-19 are difficult to get into India. He also stressed that due to low availability, it is important to make organoids locally. “The company envisages creating a novel in vitro platforms for Covid-19 research under the support,” Poosala was quoted as saying by Livemint.
As part of the grant proposal, OncoSeek Bio will also work on its novel platform for the facilitation of screening of drugs which are usually peptides, molecules, agents or compounds that are effective against the virus.
OncoSeek Bio plans to build these capabilities in the next six months with the help of faculty at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Hyderabad and ASPIRE- BioNEST. “The team can address the challenges and bring out the science to understand and solve the Covid-19 puzzle,” Poosala said.
Since 2019, the startup was incubated at ASPIRE- BioNEST of the University of Hyderabad. It has been developing in vitro and in vivo solutions for various life-threatening conditions for therapeutics screening.
OncoSeek is one of the 16 startups which have been shortlisted by BIRAC for developing a Covid-19 solution. BIRAC had received around 500 proposals for the Covid-19 research consortium. Meanwhile, BioNEST is an incubator established with the support of BIRAC, an organisation set up under the department of science and technology.
Besides BIRAC, a clutch of Indian startups, venture capitalists, and prominent partners have also set up Action Covid-19 Team (ACT) fund to back startups which have the potential to take on Covid-19.
As of now, ACT has backed around 27 startups or initiatives. Some of the notable startups shortlisted by ACT are 1mg, MyLab, Healthians, Impact Guru, Sattva, among others.