Texas Biomed setting its sights on omicron variant

The institute awaits the omicron variant itself for testing, research

SAN ANTONIOTexas Biomed, one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions, is already working with the World Health Organization to obtain the omicron variant itself for testing and research.

Like much of the rest of the world right now, “There’s a lot that I would like to know,” said Dr. Larry Schlesinger, president and CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute.

Schlesinger said Texas Biomed will eventually get the omicron variant which can only found be in one lab in South Africa, the country where it was discovered a few days ago.

A spokeswoman for Texas Biomed said only the African Health Research Institute has the variant in hand.

“That lab will grow it, sequence it, then deposit it at the WHO biorepository,” she said.

From there, an arm of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease will do “some additional regrowth and sequencing before sending it out to institute like ours,” the Texas Biomed spokeswoman said.

Once it’s received in several weeks, she said it can be used in Petri dishes and in animal models.

“Our work is really to try to answer several questions about how infectious this virus is, whether it behaves differently in the animal models or other types of models we have at the Institute,” Schlesinger said.

He said omicron fits into the work already being done at Texas Biomed.

“We’re constantly looking at these variants in terms of better therapies or next-generation vaccines,” Schlesinger said.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.