The unsung Indian heroes of the Medicine Makers ‘Power List 2015’

The Medicine Maker, a UK-based publication's has featured a ‘Power List’ showcasing industry leaders and top influencers in the field of drug discovery and development. BioSpectrum takes a look at some of the unsung heroes of the power list 2015

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In a bid to celebrate the achievements, discoveries and leadership capabilities of influential people in the field of medicine, Medicine Makers, a UK-based publication had published a ‘Power List'-an index of the most 100 influential people in drug development and manufacturing. The list was developed by the publication in three stages.

In stage one, it invited readers to nominate those who they thought deserved recognition. In stage two, a jury of four noted medicine makers (who prefer to remain anonymous) selected their top 100 from the slate of nominees: the results were consolidated into a list of 100 names. In the final stage, the jury ranked the list, and the average rankings were combined to provide the final power list.

The top 5 in ‘The Medicine Maker Power List' are: Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman & managing director, Biocon, Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive officer, GlaxoSmithKline, Arthur D. Levinson, chief executive officer, Calico and Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan.

The prestigious list also includes few other fellow Indian researchers and leaders who have managed to grab a place among the Top 100 global leaders through their influential work and excellence in the field of science.

vikramaditya1Dr Vikramaditya G Yadav, assistant professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Dr Vikramaditya G Yadav is one of the youngest Indian-origin achiever to be recognized by Medicine Makers for his formalization of 'biosynthonics', a novel paradigm for drug discovery and development based on metabolic and enzyme engineering. Among other innovations, he and his team are working to construct artificial human brains that help in testing of neurodegenerative drugs and research on neurodegenerative disorders.

Q. Please tell us about your work and achievements in detail.
     Biosynthonics' - a novel paradigm for discovering and synthesizing potent bioactive molecules - is the focus of my research group. We also focus on formulation and assembly of drugs and their translation to certain pathological conditions. We have recently embarked on the development of a brain-on-chip device for preclinical testing of anti-neurodegeneration drugs.
Biosynthonics is a response to the current drug discovery crisis in the pharmaceutical industry. The platform comprises of four principal domains - design, synthesis, exploration, and integration. In retrosynthetic analysis, a ‘synthon' is defined as a structural unit, or building block, within a molecule that is the product of a specific synthetic operation. By clustering biosynthon gene combinations, permutations and mutations into biosynthetic operons to be expressed as heterologous metabolic pathways in tractable microbial hosts, one can readily generate pharmacophores which can be used in drug discovery

Apart from this, we are working to construct artificial human brains in a variety of formats, one of which is a brain-on-chip in collaboration with colleagues from the biopharmaceutical industry and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science.
The device mimics the human brain a three-dimensional models of human tissue that recapitulate the spatiotemporal complexities of the tissue microenvironment as they occur within the body. This provides a highly context-specific platform to test and validate lead compounds, which improves the success rate of compounds in the clinic.

We plan to utilize this device to investigate fundamental details about neurotransmission and test lead compounds targeting two prominent neurodegenerative disorders, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) in a high-throughput manner.

Q. How can this research bring about a change in current testing methods?

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