While coronavirus continues to play havoc in the country, Indian Institute of Technology Indore is among the institutions which have started to prepare a vaccine for the deadly virus and protective gears for personnel who are on the frontline of the COVID combat.
“At IIT Indore research activities are going on with special focus on the ongoing pandemic. While one team of researchers has stated experiments aimed at preparing a vaccine for COVID-19, other teams are preparing protective gears for medical staff, police and civic employees who are the frontline personnel in the fight against the virus,” said Sunil Kumar, public relation officer of IIT Indore.
Dr Amit Kumar, faculty in Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering has been scrutinising the SARS-CoV-2 protein information for the designing an effective vaccine encompassing both the T-cell and B-cell epitopes. He and his group has screened all the proteins of SARS-CoV-2 to search for the patches that can be used for immunity generation against this pathogen.
These patches were thoroughly analysed by using various computational tools to generate a model vaccine candidate having a propensity to elicit a protective immune response. The work is currently under peer review and represents preliminary data that can act as an initial platform for the rapid generation of an efficacious protective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Besides, the departments of Biosciences & Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering jointly are working on the development of the sterilization chamber.
“The chamber will be using 254 nm ultra-violate (UV) rays to sterilize personal objects ie mobile phone, wallet, etc of duty-bound police, doctors, and associated personnel. This is being done on the request of Vivek Sharma, IG of Indore Zone,” Kumar said.
Apart from this, Dr IA Palani and Dr Indrasen Singh, faculties in Mechanical Engineering, are working towards developing customized 3D printed reusable masks having a provision to have reusable filters and straps.
These 3D printing is done on the fabrics and they will have a provision to be cleaned and reused. Few masks are already printed for trial purposes. In addition, the group is also in the process of developing a customizable mask based on the different face features of an individual.
Dr Vipul Singh, faculty in Electrical Engineering, Palani from Mechanical Engineering and Dr Abhishek Srivastava from Computer Science and Engineering are working on the development of Shape Memory Alloy based optical temperature sensor for sensing the body temperature.
“This device can be fitted into the fabric of the patient and the body temperature can be continuously monitored without physical contact or thermometer or thermal scanner. The group is working on the process to further enhance the resolution of the sensor to continuously monitor the body temperature and make it and IOT enabled system so that the doctors can monitor the patient's temperature even at remote locations,” Kumar said.
Dr Vipul Singh is also working on the development of UV-C LEDs and UV-C photodetectors for disinfection of surfaces/ PPEs against COVID-19 and other pathogens. The exposure to UV-C radiations is known to kill and inactivate pathogens by destroying their nucleic acids by disrupting their DNA.
Prof Sandeep Choudhary of Civil Engineering and Dr Rajesh Kumar of Physics are working on the development of self-illuminating fluorescent bricks and coatings for UV Disinfection Building Chambers to disinfect the passenger luggage. This will be done by converting existing concrete buildings into closed UV chambers by completely packing the openings (doors, windows, and ventilators) to avoid the exposure of UV light.
IIT-I faculty to lead Indian group at Intl Research Project
Six research groups representing different countries ie India, Norway, Sweden, USA, France and Denmark have been invited to be a part of the International Network Research Project "Stopping Covid-19 Pandemic", funded by Norwegian Research Council. The Indian research group will be led by Dr Avinash Sonawane, faculty in Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering at IIT Indore. The objectives of this project are to study Covid-19 virus interaction with human host cells, pathology of Covid-19 in human and identify susceptibility-resistance factors, Cloud computing, Machine Learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) as tools to identify primary drivers of COVID-19 infection.
The Indian Research Group will be studying on the Proteomic and antibody generation. Sonawane has also been recently elected as Fellow of Royal Society of Biology, the UK for his research work in Tuberculosis and Leukemia. Fellows are elected by the Council of Royal Society of UK in recognition of the outstanding contribution made in the research field.