• 8 April 2009
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Bio News

NGO holds Sixth Biofuels conference
Winrock International India (WII), a New Delhi-based NGO, working in the areas of clean and renewable energy, natural resources management and climate change, organized the sixth International Biofuels Conference in New Delhi.
Aiming to map the progress, technological developments and innovations in the biofuels sector, the conference witnessed presentations by subject experts from both within India and abroad. From policy perspectives to debating the promotion of algal biodiesel or discussing life cycle analysis (LCA) and sustainability, several key issues were covered.
The conference was inaugurated by Debashish Majumdar, CMD, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited, who in his inaugural address said that one of the factors for the success in the development of renewable energy for the power sector would be the development of a strong policy that also encourages investment, especially in the private sector.
The conference agreed that advances in genetics, biotechnology processes, chemical and engineering are leading to new concepts for converting renewable biomass to valuable fuels and other products. The conference also agreed that LCA can be a useful tool for the consideration of environmental aspects of sustainability, and the development of a data model would ensure that every producer of biofuels does not have to commission a full scale LCA study.
It was repeatedly emphasized that a road map for alternative fuel use for India such that the product is available on a sustainable basis to enable the auto industry to come out with optimized models. It was also felt the biodiesel industry can be much more attractive if the by-products of the biodiesel industry are effectively utilized, through several commercial technologies that are already available.
As large scale plantations of Jatropha are in existence in several Indian states, it was a positive sign that would lead to the availability of raw material for future processing plants. The future availability of lingo cellulosic biomass, algal biodiesel and other renewable fuels could be expected to achieve breakthroughs in the near future.
 The final session, a panel discussion, was chaired by V Subramanian, former Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, with panelist Dr HL Sharma, director biofuels, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, who mentioned that the long awaited National Biofuels Policy for India was with the cabinet for clearance and would be adopted soon. Dilip Chenoy, director general, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers; Dr Veena Joshi, team leader, Rural Energy and Housing, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and AK Goel, general manager, PCRA, were the other panelists who agreed that sustainability was a key issue that had to be addressed.
In his concluding remarks, Dr Kinsuk Mitra, president, Winrock International India, said, “The Sixth International Biofuels Conference, has raised the bar substantially in the quality of the presentations, the enthusiasm of the participants and the sheer extent of information sharing that has taken place.”

Biocon, Bristol-Myers Squibb open R&D facility
Syngene International, a subsidiary of Biocon Ltd, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company have opening of a fully dedicated research and development facility for Bristol-Myers Squibb in Biocon Park, Bangalore.
 The 2 lakh square-foot facility at Biocon Park is dedicated to helping advance Bristol-Myers Squibb's work in discovery and early drug development, and is currently occupied by 270 researchers. Construction on the facility began in March 2007, when Bristol-Myers Squibb and Biocon entered into an agreement to develop integrated drug discovery and development capabilities at Syngene.
 The facility will house 360 researchers by the end of the year and could accommodate as many as 450 employees in the future. Work at the facility will span the drug discovery and development process from initial hit to lead optimization to early pharmaceutical development to clinical nomination to phase-I and phase-II clinical studies. The building of this facility signals Bristol-Myers Squibb's commitment to R&D in Asia.
 “We are pleased to build upon our more-than 10 year relationship with Biocon with the completion of this dedicated R&D facility and the establishment of this integrated R&D center in Asia. The opening of this facility is an integral part of our company's strategy to access top talent around the world and establish a research and development presence in Asia,”  said Elliott Sigal, executive vice president, chief scientific officer and president, Research and Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
  ” Syngene's multi-disciplinary skills in synthetic chemistry, process chemistry and molecular biology. have garnered international repute. This collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb is a testimonial to Syngene's global reputation and offers a powerful value-added capability base for Bristol-Myers Squibb,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD, Biocon.
 In addition to expanding its research and development capabilities in India through its relationship with Biocon, Bristol-Myers Squibb has committed to supporting the development of scientific excellence in India. Since 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb has established fellowships supporting doctoral and post-graduate students at four academic institutions in the areas of biology, chemistry, pharmaceutics, drug metabolism, chemical engineering, clinical pharmacology and translational medicine. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Biocon are also exploring public-private educational partnerships with local universities.

India, UNESCO to set up Regional Center for Biotechnology in Faridabad
The Government of India and the UNESCO realizing the need of training and education for generating interdisciplinary human resource relevant to biotechnology, have decided to establish the regional center for research, training and education in biotechnology under the auspices of UNESCO. Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Kapil Sibal announced the setting up of UNESCO Regional Center for Biotechnology at its first meeting of the Board of Governors held in New Delhi.
The center will come up in Faridabad, Haryana by next year. Interacting with the media on the occasion, Sibal said that the center would be beneficial to all countries in the region including India in developing knowledge-rich highly skilled human resource, harmonization of policies and procedures in biotechnology and indirectly promoting trade. Biotechnology being essentially global, the partnerships are as much within as across countries. The center will create a place from which many such partnerships will emerge. The center will provides a meeting place where innovation, enterprise, and industrial development will germinate.
Dr MK Bhan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, said that the primary focus of the UNESCO Regional Center for Biotechnology is to provide high quality human resource of an interdisciplinary nature and in areas of acute shortage. As education and training of world class quality requires a research milieu, the research in the proposed center will also be an interface of multiple disciplines and focused on technology development. He said that the educational programs of the UNESCO center are designed to create opportunities for students to engage in research where they learn the tools by integrating science, engineering and medicine to provide health care solutions for human and animal sector, for agriculture and environment technologies.
Specialized domain-specific programs will also be created in new opportunity areas such as cell and tissue engineering, nanobiotechnology and biosciences, synergy of information technology and advanced biomaterials to create a cadre of highly specialized people who integrate across disciplines. An important focus of expertise building will be regulation, product development, scale up, manufacturing science and bio-entrepreneurship. The center will also provide user friendly opportunities for career development and will also be open to industry for enhancing their skills in specific areas required for career advancement.

Bharat Biotech launches COMVAC5
Bharat Biotech International (BBIL), Hyderabad, has launched COMVAC5, a single shot pentavalent combination vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib). COMVAC5 is safe, effective and an affordable vaccine that offers complete protection against Hib,  which is a life-threatening illness in young children.. Hib can cause meningitis and severe pneumonia, leading to three million cases of serious illness and 4 lakh deaths each year in children under five years of age.
Making the announcement Dr Krishna M Ella, chairman and managing director, Bharat Biotech International, said, “The launch of COMVAC5 is a milestone effort from Bharat Biotech. It is an indigenous vaccine that helps to reduce childhood sicknesses and deaths from preventable diseases at affordable cost. With a single injection this vaccine has the ability to protect children against multiple infectious diseases. This pentavalent vaccine demonstrates our commitment to consistently develop, safe and affordable vaccines for the emerging world.”
Combination pentavalent vaccines have been approved by several countries and included in their respective national immunization programs for childhood vaccinations. Combination vaccines come highly recommended by World Health Organization and other global regulatory agencies since they combine five antigens into a single dose, thus eliminating the need for multiple injections to infants. Reduction of injections to infants has proven to reduce the amount of side effects, and reduce the probability of disease transmission through needle contamination.
Bio News Syngene forges alliance with DuPont Crop Protection
Syngene International, a subsidiary of Biocon Ltd, announced its agreement as alliance partner with DuPont Crop Protection. Syngene has been a preferred research service provider to DuPont Crop Protection primarily in the field of discovery chemistry and biology and will now provide integrated research services, through its “one box” model, covering a broad range of R&D technical capabilities to support DuPont’s discovery pipeline.
“Today we recognize our long-standing relationship and take the next step to further advance our collaboration,” said Julia R Wheeler, R&D director, DuPont Crop Protection.
Goutam Das, CEO Syngene, said, ”We are excited at the prospect of supporting DuPont across the discovery and development value chain in an integrated manner. This signifies our competencies in providing innovation-based integrated research services from early stage discovery to final production.”

DuPont Crop Protection appoints GVK BIO as  strategic alliance partner
GVK Biosciences is appointed by DuPont Crop Protection as a strategic alliance partner for discovery chemistry services in India. Both the companies have been working together for more than five years and a dedicated discovery chemistry team is in place to work in DuPont’s various R&D initiatives.
“Based on our valued relationship of the past years, we are ready to advance that to a new level of technical collaboration with GVK Biosciences,” said Julia Wheeler, R&D director, DuPont Crop Protection.
“DuPont is one of our large and long-standing customers and is now taking our relationship to the next level based on consistent delivery with speed and quality.  Over the years GVK Biosciences has tackled projects that vary in degree of complexity in crop protection and has built a niche expertise to serve the agro-science community,” said Manni Kantipudi, president, GVK Biosciences.

MakroCare opens new office in Tokyo
MakroCare, the US-based global clinical services firm, which provides clinical research support services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries has opened its new international office in Tokyo, Japan.
MakroCare is the first CRO with an office in India to open an office in Japan. To meet the growing needs and to serve its clients in Japan, MakroCare has chosen Tokyo as it’s strategic base in Japan. MakroCare has offices in the US (New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania), Asia (India), and Europe (Frankfurt).

Biocon wins BioSingapore award 
Biocon was honored as the Best Listed Company 2009 in the biotechnology field in the Asia-Pacific region by BioSingapore. The 2009 BioSingapore Asia-Pacific Biotechnology Awards were presented at the BioSingapore Awards gala dinner held during BioMedical Asia 2009 at Singapore on March 17, 2009. This is the second year that BioSingapore has recognized biotech leaders from Asia-Pacific through its awards.
Biocon was adjudged the best listed company based on significant market capital, sound business model and excellent management team.
“To be felicitated by peers in the biotechnology sphere in the Asia-Pacific region is a great honor. We have always believed at Biocon that the difference lies in our DNA and striving towards affordable innovation is our mantra. We are delighted to be recognized for our achievements by BioSingapore” remarked Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon.
Every year, BioSingapore receives nominations from biotechnology industry associations (BNAP), industry peers, academics and institutions across Asia- Pacific region for the most outstanding companies or individuals in various categories. The nominees are judged by a panel of distinguished leaders in the field.

Polyclone Bioservices to focus on genotyping
Bangalore-based Polyclone Bioservices has added genotyping into its arsenal of technologies and expertise. Polyclone would focus on genotyping-based research in the diagnostic and agricultural sectors and offer services to both Indian and global customers.
The global market for genotyping is estimated to be around $700 million.  While Polyclone would be amongst the few companies in India to offer genotyping services, its value-add to its customers would be the packaging of bioinformatics services to analyze the mutation data generated by genotyping systems, which is critical to make sense of the data and to take informed decisions.
Polyclone plans genotyping research projects to identify and characterize mutations specific to Indian races to develop diagnostic assays for cancers of national importance. Apart from research, Polyclone would offer services for detection of cancer, infectious and genetic diseases to diagnostic labs and hospitals through a centralized setup.
In agriculture, Polyclone would take up select projects in plant genotyping for identification of molecular markers for marker assisted selection and abiotic stress resistant cultivar development.

PREMAS Biotech launches human drug metabolism enzymes
PREMAS Biotech has launched its suite of recombinant human cytochrome P450 isozymes. These microsomes contain human CYP450 isozyme and human NADPH oxido reductase hence offering significantly higher specific activity and performance. These isozymes will be expressed in yeast which means that these recombinant human enzymes mimic their native forms and ensures biological and pharmacologically active isoforms. PREMAS will be using their proprietary vectors for optimized expression.

The Mathworks introduces Simbiology 3
The MathWorks has introduced SimBiology 3, a tool for modeling, simulating and analyzing biological systems in one integrated, graphical environment. SimBiology 3 provides a more intuitive and flexible environment for population pharmacokinetic (PK) modeling and analysis.
SimBiology 3 includes a new PK model wizard that offers the ease-of-use of a built-in library without the limitation of pre-defined models. The model wizard automatically generates PK models by specifying only compartment number, route of administration and method of elimination. Users can also import clinical or experimental data, preprocess, visualize and calculate statistics on the data. Population fits can then be performed using methods such as non-linear mixed effects modeling.
“SimBiology 3 answers an industry-wide call for increased usability and flexibility in population PK modeling,” said Kristen Zannella, biotech and pharmaceutical industry marketing manager at The MathWorks. “Those users familiar with SimBiology, along with the pharmacokinetic community who has been searching for a more adaptable tool to meet their needs, can now accomplish more in a shorter amount of time with an expanded and intuitive toolset.”

Sigma-Aldrich streamlines stem cell research portfolio
Sigma-Aldrich has launched an online web portal that provides researchers with immediate access to its extensive portfolio of industry-leading products developed specifically for advanced stem cell research. The new portal features over 1,100 unique and highly-focused products that are expected to support every step of the stem cell research workflow, from isolation, characterization, expansion, differentiation and functional profiling to in-vitro or in-vivo tracking.
The portal also provides access to a robust stem cell biology community and is available at http://www.sigma-aldrich.com/stemcell.

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