The National Institute of Virology in Pune has successfully isolated and cultured the new UK variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from the samples of the UK returnees, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Saturday.
India is the second country, after the UK, to have done so. “No country has yet reported successful isolation and culture of the UK variant of Sars-CoV-2,” the ICMR statement said.
Culture is the process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions, generally outside their natural environment.
The researchers at the institute used “vero cell line” to culture the virus. These are cells derived from the kidney of the African green monkeys and are one of the most common cell lines used for molecular and cell biology research.
These cultures will help the country in studying whether the current vaccines and the natural immunity gained through exposure to the infection will be effective against the new variant.
“This is a very important step and the expected next step for the top virology institute. These cell cultures are extremely important for various studies, including studies to answer the pertinent question on whether the vaccines will be effective against the new variant,” said Dr Rakesh Mishra, director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.