The entire world is within the grip of an unprecedented pandemic– SARS COV2 (Novel Coronavirus) – and scientists and researchers are sparing no effort to establish diagnostics, treatments, immunity boosters and vaccines to fight off this deadly virus. The virology and immunology experts at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) have played their role by successfully establishing Molecular Diagnostic Assays for the detection of Novel Corona virus, in collaboration with Wuhan Institute of Virology China, DZIF Germany, Columbia University USA and Armed Institute of Pathology (AFIP) Rawalpindi. The team of Associate Professor Dr. Aneela Javed and Assistant Professor Dr. Ali Zohaib from NUST ASAB have developed an assay for the detection of the virus in the human body which is a breakthrough in CoV-19 diagnosis. The assays consist of conventional and real-time PCR using both Sybr Green and Taqman chemistries and are extensively tested against laboratory controls and infected samples. These indigenously established assays are robust, sensitive to the target, and would soon be available at 1/4th of its value in the market.
In addition to that, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) NUST is exploring new avenues for revolutionary research in collaboration with other universities in the country by mobilizing intellectual pool of virologists and immunologists in search for answers and much-needed break-throughs. NUST and the University of Karachi have successfully sequenced locally discovered strains of SARS-CoV2 to be published from Pakistan, in collaboration with Armed Institute of Pathology (AFIP) Rawalpindi and Charite Berlin University.
That being said, NUST is utilizing its maximum intellectual resources in multiple COVID relevant projects including teleoperated decontamination robot by Dr. Mohsin Tiwana, aerial spraying drone by Waqar Shahid Qureshi, robust and cost-effective PCR-based testing kits for the detection of Coronavirus by Dr. Aneela Javed and Dr. Ali Zohaib; bilingual (Urdu & English) COVID-19 self-screening app by Dr. Umer Shahbaz Khan, the world’s first Urdu app for Android, named COVID CHECK PAKISTAN (app is available at http://ncra.org.pk/covid/); high-quality sanitizers for microbial control by Dr. Qasim Hayat and Dr. Nosheen Fatima, produced as per the revised guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), USA; and ventilator systems for short-term stabilization (ranging from few hours to one day) of COVID-19 patients by Dr. Murtaza Najabat Ali, as per the design specifications specially issued for combating COVID-19 by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), UK.
The university had the honor to collaborate with The Center for Inference and Dynamics of Infectious Diseases (CIDID) and NextStrain (an open-source application), USA to use Open Data Sharing for mapping the virus and its spread to help combat the virus, stated by The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA). The researchers have connected these dots through OpenData sharing in tracking the advancement of COVID-19 and different viruses. Sharing information and working cooperatively over the web, will give researchers a chance to rapidly investigate more genetic samples. Such OpenData sharing procedures have helped in tracking bacterial outbreaks, evolving viruses like Ebola and Congo and the now global pandemic, COVID-19, and understand how this virus has spread across regions and how local outbreaks are connected.
The current outbreak of COVID 19, has forced Governments, scientists, medical professionals, law enforcement agencies and economic zones of the world to sit together and contemplate and develop strategies to combat not only this unanticipated and deadly challenge but also the repercussions caused by this global phenomenon. Pakistan has realized the gravity of the situation and embraced this challenge head-on by taking directly involved Govt. sectors mainly Health, S&T, Economy and all relevant stakeholders on board in decision making.
Federal Minister for Science & Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has been actively involved and up-to-date on the research contributions by the scientists and researchers at NUST. The Minister witnessed a demonstration of the various technologies developed by scientists on 2nd April 2020 and appreciated NUST for playing its role as a leading research-led university of the country, in helping the Government fight this pandemic. He commended NUST for coming up with highly innovative and effective products at a fast pace to purge the country from the pandemic that has been wreaking havoc globally and implementing online teaching model in accordance to the Govt. guidelines to ensure social distancing and safety of students and faculty without compromising on educational commitments.
The content has been edited by Manager Research and Innovation Promotion and is a curator at NUST Research & Innovation Blog. She can be reached at email@example.com