ICBS reports 70 genomes of coronavirus globally: Dr Iqbal

ISLAMABAD:Around 70 full genomes of SARS-CoV-2 virus have been sequenced and globally reported from the genome center of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences(ICCBS) so far and 350 genetic mutations have been identified by the center.

The nationwide genome surveillance was conducted to keep a close watch on the emergence of deadly variants in Pakistan to monitor the mutational changes in the SARS Cov-II virus at the Jamil ur Rahman Center for Genomics of the ICCBS.

These views were expressed by the Director ICCBS Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Chaudhry, while mentioning the Center’s services to the nation during COVID19 pandemic.

Talking to reporter, he said that the National Institute of Virology (NIV) of ICCBS conducted over 140,000 PCR based tests helping in national fight against the health crises.

To achieve the large scale testing objective, NIV placed several PCR machines and deputed highly trained virologists to Indus Hospital.

He introduced that the Industrial Analytical Center (IAC) of the ICCBS, is the largest industrial support facility of Pakistan in the academic setup, initiated 24 hours testing services of items manufactured locally to fight pandemic.

IAC is an ISO 9000 and 17025 accredited center, and its reports are internationally recognized.

IAC’s services ensured that only those products are allowed to be sold which are as per international standards, he said.

Prof. Chaudhry said that the ICCBS’s Center for Bio equivalence Studies and Clinical Research (CBSCR) conducted clinical trials as per international standards on two traditional medicines, prescribed in China.

This was the only center at that time to conduct clinical trials in search of better treatment of COVID patients in Pakistan. CBSCR also conducted phase I clinical trials on SinoPharm vaccine and proved its safety in Pakistan. SinoPharm vaccine is the only vaccine which is currently being dispensed in government hospitals to people, he informed.

He said that ICCBS researchers have validated the efficacy of drugs such as remdesivir, and dimethyl lithospermate against molecular targets in SARS-CoV-2 virus. They also successfully cultured the virus in green monkey’s cells and started testing various herbs for their antiviral effects. Results of these studies were published internationally and patented in Pakistan and in USA, Prof. Chaudhry mentioned.

The ICCBS is one of the finest academic research establishments of chemical and biomedical sciences in the developing world. This center has won more international awards than any other institution in Pakistan. These international awards include Islamic Development Bank Prize for the Best Science Institution (twice 2004 and 2010), World Health Organization Collaborating Center. This is UNESCO Category II center. ICCBS is also recognized internationally by the OIC, and, TWAS as their Center of Excellence.

It has the most decorated faculty in the country that has won UNESCO Science Prize, Fellowship of the Royal Society, Khwarizmi International Prize, ECO, and COMSTECH awards and UNESCO Science Prize, while the national awards include Nishan-e-lmtiaz (01), Hilal-e-lmtiaz (05), Sitara-e-lmtiaz (13), Tamgha-i-lmtiaz (13), etc.

Dr. Chaudhry mentioned that ICCBS has trained over 1,500 PhD level scientists, currently serving in top institutions and industries of the country. He said that the center’s research in the frontier fields of molecular medicine, genomics, nanotechnology, organic synthesis is published in over 8,500 research papers in leading international journals, including a few in international peer reviewed impact factor journals of Bentham Science Publishers.

He said that along with outstanding academic services, the center has been engaged in industrial and community services. It operates Pakistan’s most modern Sindh Forensic DNA and Serology Lab, supporting the legal system. ICCBS provides world class analytical and consultancy services to over 700 industries through its ISO 9,000 and ISO 17,025 certified center, and has helped Pak customs to increase its revenues several folds. DRAP approved clinical trial and bio equivalence center of the ICCBS is providing services to pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan.

He said that it is the only center in the developing world that provides training to scientists from advanced countries, having trained over 1,200 foreign scientists from some 35 countries, including about a hundred scientists from Germany, as well as those from France, and the USA.