May 12, 2020

Bindley Bioscience Center collaborates with Bangalore-based company on COVID-19 research

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Bindley Bioscience Center in Purdue University’s Discovery Park has signed an agreement with Eyestem Research Private Limited, Bangalore, India, to develop cellular platforms for COVID-19 research.

Under the agreement, Purdue investigators will use Eyestem’s human lung epithelial cell culture system provided as part of the company’s anti-COVID screening (ACS) platform to understand the molecular and pathological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a view to establishing a rational basis for testing potential drugs being developed at Purdue in vitro. 

“Finding ways to treat this novel coronavirus in order to minimize illness and death is a global imperative, so it is critical to create cross-border collaborations that can accelerate the pace of science,” says Ramaswamy Subramanian, Bindley’s director.

“We are hoping that by working with this Indian startup, we can identify new drug screening strategies, which will be the fastest way out of the current crisis.”

Jogin Desai, CEO of Eyestem, adds, “We are honored to collaborate with Purdue University, which has world-class research programs in the life sciences. The ACS platform reflects the depth of expertise in our scientific talent led by Dr. Rajarshi Pal, Eyestem’s chief scientist. We are hopeful that Purdue researchers will be able to leverage this platform to advance COVID-19 research globally.” 

Subramanian says the entry of coronaviruses into host lungs depends on the binding of the viral spike (S) proteins to cellular receptors and its priming by host cell proteases. The S protein mediates host cell invasion by SARS-CoV-2 via binding to a receptor protein called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) located on the surface membrane of host cells.

“This understanding undergirds the screening platform that Eyestem has developed, providing critical knowledge for Purdue researchers as they seek treatments for the virus that causes COVID-19,” he says.  

Current researchers interested in using Eyestem’s system include Richard Kuhn, the Trent and Judith Anderson Distinguished Professor in Science and the Krenicki Family Director of the Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease; Robert Stahelin, the Retter Professor of Pharmacy and a professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology; and Andrew Mesecar, the Walther Professor in Cancer Structural Biology and head of the Department of Biochemistry. Bindley will supply these cells to the Purdue investigators as a service.

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Writer: Angela Roberts, akroberts@purdue.edu

Source: Ramaswamy Subramanian, subram68@purdue.edu

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