Hyderabad: A start-up from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been selected for COVID-19 funding from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). OncoSeek Bio Pvt Ltd, a start-up incubated at ASPIRE-BioNest, UoH’s start-up incubator, has been included among 16 other proposals that will receive funding from BIRAC.

The UoH start-up is developing an in-vitro lung organoid model which can contribute towards addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. A lung organoid is a 3D tissue-engineered mini lung that performs the functions of actual lung tissue.

Suresh Poosala, the founder of OncoSeek Bio, said, “Current animal models available for research on COVID-19 are either difficult to get into India or create them on time to address the pandemic. The company envisages creating novel in-vitro platforms for COVID-19 research under the support.”

The start-up was selected from among 500 proposals that were submitted to the COVID-19 research consortium.

Oncoseek Bio’s vision is to develop in-vitro and in-vivo platforms for specific diseases for therapeutic screening. Headed by Dr. Suresh Poosala, who has an experience of over 25 years in different universities in the US, the team, comprising Dr. Bharadwaja Vadloori and Shanmuga Priya, has been conducting research on cell culture models for diseases such as cancer.

The team plans to enhance the scope of its research on in-vitro platforms using the research grant. It also intends to use its novel platform to screen drugs/peptides/molecules/agents/compounds targeted against the virus or the host cell. It plans to create this capability in the next six months.

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