Home          Contact us   
The ICMR Virus Unit, Kolkata
About ICMR Virus Unit    

The ICMR Virus Unit, Kolkata, was functioning as an “Enquiry” since 1962. In 1970, the Indian Council of Medical Research has upgraded the “Enquiry” into “Unit” and subsequently made it a permanent one in 1989 for studying the emerging and remerging viral diseases in Eastern India. In view of the ever increasing burden of the problem of viral diseases in Eastern India, ICMR Virus Unit devoted continuously to the problem of virological Research of public health importance in Eastern India and the focus of research activities of in the Unit continued on basic research, services, training and collaborative research on surveillance with an aim to alleviate sufferings of the people.

The Unit has a state-of-the-art molecular virology laboratory to study hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in Eastern India, which study virological basis of chronic hepatitis in humans, encompassing diagnosis, molecular epidemiology, pathogenesis and molecular characterization of blood borne hepatitis virus.

Among other significant achievements are identification of vaccine escape mutant HBV with potential to infect vaccinated population and escape diagnosis of HBV infection with molecular evidence of transmission of the mutants among family members by intrafamilial, non-parenteral horizontal modes and establishment of pattern of transmission of occult HBV infection among the family members of asymptomatic HBV carriers,. In sharp contrast to other parts of India, a significant proportion of HBV genotype C, having sequence similarity with south East Asian subgenotype Cs/C1 strain, have been detected among the patients, suggesting a recent introduction of the genotype. One of the routes of introduction of HBV genotype C in eastern India is possibly through overland drug trafficking routs through IDUs of Manipur. Notably, in Southeast Asia, this genotype is associated with severe and progressive liver disease and development of hepatocellular carcinoma-the most dreaded outcome of HBV infection: thus underscoring the importance of close monitoring of the patients infected with this HBV genotype for early detection of complications. In addition, virological and clinical characterization of Hepatitis B genotype D, the most widespread genotype that exists as at least five subgenotypes (HBV/D1–D5), underscored the importance of genotyping in HBV.

Studies on voluntary blood donors of West Bengal have established - a significance prevalence of occult HBV infection. The study has revealed that more than 18 percent of healthy, young blood donors are already exposed to HBV, with two-thirds showing protecting anti-HBs levels. One in every 5 blood donors who are HBsAg-, anti-HBc–positive, however, have occult HBV infection, with likelihood of transmission of hepatitis B in recipients of blood components derived from them.

Detection of HBV DNA and the replicative intermediate in peripheral blood leukocytes has opened a new area of research in the field of pathobiology of HBV infection.

Studies to characterize HCV circulating in this region are being carried out including DNA Sequencing based Genotyping and synthesis of full-length HCV cDNA.

Samples, from the suspected Dengue, Chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis cases showed presence of disease activity all over the state. Initial outbreak of chikungunya was followed by the spread of the disease in different parts of the state. Systematic dengue fever surveillance in eastern Kolkata revealed that Den-1 was the most prevalent circulating strain followed by Den-2, Den-4 and Den-3.

The institute is designated as Apex Referral Laboratory for the detection of Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, New Delhi. The Virus Unit is a Collaborative Centre for the PDVI project.
Three patents have been filed on the antimicrobial activities of some medicinal plant components.

Study of Opportunistic infections among HIV seropositive patients from eastern India reveal Oral candidiasis (88%) was the most common OI, followed by tuberculosis (57%), enteropathogenic Vibrio (47%), cytomegalovirus infection (45%), cryptosporidial diarrhea (43%), Escherichia coli infection (42%) and other infections.

Many post-graduate students of this Institute have been awarded Ph.D. degree and many are registered in different Universities of the state viz. (Jadavpur University, Calcutta University, Burdwan university). Post-graduate medical students also attend courses at the Institute and scientists act as co-guides for M.D. students for thesis work.
The Virus Unit thus is a focal centre in Eastern India on research on viral diseases of public health importance.

The vision, of ICMR Virus Unit, Kolkata, is to conduct research and develop strategies for prevention, treatment, and control of emerging and reemerging viral diseases threatening the Eastern part of the country.

Research Divisions

The mandate of Virus unit is
to conduct research, services and training on viral diseases.
Basic and applied research on Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya, Herpes sirnplex, CMV, opportunistic infections of HIV
Outbreak Response
Surveillance of Human for viral disease
Summer/Winter training of students of different universities and Institutions all over India