Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday laid the foundation for an Animal Challenge Study platform at the Department of Biotechnology Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) for undertaking evaluation studies of potential drug and vaccine candidates.

He also virtually inaugurated the biorepository for COVID-19 clinical samples at the ILS that now holds more than 1,000 samples of nasopharyngeal swabs, blood, urine and saliva from 202 COVID-19 patients, the DBT said in a statement.

“Dr Harsh Vardhan also laid the foundation stone for the Animal Challenge Study platform at DBT-ILS for undertaking evaluation studies of potential drug and vaccine candidates,” the statement added.

The minister virtually addressed scientists on the occasion of the 32nd foundation day.

Quoting Vardhan, the statement said, “The institute (ILS) has sequenced around 500 viral genomes and established 17 virus cultures that will enable furthering the research and development efforts of COVID-19 in the coming days.

“DBT-ILS has excelled in application of science and technology for improving livelihoods of the tribal population,” it said.

The minister also lauded DBT-ILS for testing over 1,50,000 samples from across Odisha.

Vardhan also launched the Himalayan Bioresources Mission, which will carry out advanced research focusing on agriculture, horticulture, medicinal and aromatic plants, livestock and microbial resources, while taking up translational research for societal development.

The ILS-IBSD (Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development) partnership centre aims at skill and capacity development of scientific communities of the northeast region in the area of advanced biotechnology.