KOLKATA - 700010

(Established in 1989)



Phone: 033 -23537424
Fax: 033 -23537424
Website :  http://icmrvirusunit.org.in
Scope of Activities:

Situated at Kolkata in West Bengal, the ICMR Virus Unit conducts research on Viral Diseases viz. Hepatitis, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya virus and opportunistic infections among HIV seropositive patients from eastern India.

Thrust Areas:

The following are the thrust areas of ICMR Virus Unit

  • Studying the virological basis of chronic hepatitis B in humans, encompassing diagnosis, molecular epidemiology, pathogenesis and molecular characterization.
  • Multiple viral infections and characterization of occult HBV infection in relation to safety of blood donation.
  • Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya virus: Laboratory-based surveillance of outbreaks and cases in the selected area; Hospital-based surveillance of cases in the selected divisions of state health services; Seroepidemiological surveys in the selected communities for infection & attack rates; Molecular characterization of the presently circulated strain; Sample surveys for the detection of CHIK JE and Dengue infections during and following the outbreak of the disease in the state and determination of the seasonal fluctuations of the cases.
  • Opportunistic infections among HIV seropositive patients from eastern India: Collection of data on clinical, epidemiological, microbiological and virological information on opportunistic infections among the AIDS patients in West Bengal with a view to establish a database.
International Recognition:

The Virus Unit is a Collaborative Centre for the PDVI project.
Human Resource Development :

The scientists of the Unit are supervising the work of students working for their Ph.D from different Universities.
Recognition for Doctorate/Masters by a University:

The scientists of the Unit are recognised supervisors of the following Universities

  • University of Calcutta
  • Jadavpur University
  • Burdwan University

Major Achievements:

  • Significant achievements of the ICMR Virus Unit are the following
    Reported a significant increase in the prevalence of HBV infection among the blood donors
    of West Bengal in the year 2005 over 2004.
  • Detection of 1 in 5 HBsAg-ve/ anti-HBc+ve blood donors to have occult HBV infection, with
    possibility of transmission of hepatitis B in recipients of blood components derived from
  • Documented evidence of horizontal transmission of HBV vaccine escape mutant G145R of
    in the family
  • In addition to genotypes A & D prevalent in different parts of India, identified genotype C
    (Southeast Asian sub genotype Cs) in one fifth of the Eastern Indian patients.
  • Reported HBV/C in urban population higher than in rural population (20% vs 6.7%).
  • Indicated through molecular evolutionary analysis possible recent introduction of HBV/Cs
    from Southeast Asia through overland drug trafficking routes via Manipur
  • Moleculaer epidemiological studies provided evidence for the transmission potentiality of
    HBV among asymptomatic/inactive or occult HBV carriers
  • Established that HBV genotype associated clinically important HBx variations may evolve
    and act distinctly in different geo-ethnic populations
  • Compared to other regions of world with high HCC prevalence, Indian HBV isolates have
    very low prevalence of HBx mutations, absence of C-terminal deletions in HBx, and absence
    of p53 codon 249 mutations found in the regions highly endemic for hepatocellular
  • Showed that male gender, age above 25 years, high HBV DNA levels, presence of T1762/
    A1764, C1753 and A1899 mutations are critical factors for clinical advancement while age
    above 25 years and C1753 as significant predictor for cirrhosis in comparison with chronic
    liver disease
  • Documentation of selection and compartmentalization of viral variants with immune
    escape G145R mutation by genetic characterization of hepatitis B Virus in peripheral blood
    leukocytes of carriers
  • Establishing differential pattern of mutations, liver injury and occult HBV infection among
    subgenotypes of hepatitis B virus genotype D (D1,D2,D3 and D5) in India
  • Showed that significant differences in risk factors and disease manifestation do exist among
    patients infected with different HBV genotypes. Genotypes A and C are frequently found
    among chronic liver disease patients, while genotype D among inactive HBeAg-negative
  • Analysis of hepatitis B virus X gene phylogeny, genetic variability and its impact on
    pathogenesis: implications in Eastern Indian HBV carriers
  • Showed a very high rate of exposure to HBV infection and occult HBV infection among the
    blood donors of Behrampur, Ganjam, Orissa in southeastern India, a district which records
    very high rate of migration in search of livelihood
  • Showed incidence of multiple herpes virus infection in HIV seropositive patients, which is a
    concern for Eastern Indian scenario
  • Reported drug susceptibility profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from HIV-infected
    and uninfected pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Eastern India
  • Reported current trends of opportunistic infections among HIV -seropositive patients from
    Eastern India
  • First report of dengue activity from Siliguri town in northern, cold, hilly region in West
  • Detection of dengue virus activity in the rural area of West Midnapore, a coastal district of
    West Bengal, for consecutive years
  • Showed that among the dengue virus genotypes, DEN-1 found to be most prevalent in the
    study area followed by DEN 4, DEN 2 and DEN

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