• 8 July 2009
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Advinus opens new drug discovery facility in Pune
Advinus Therapeutics, a Tata group company  has commissioned the new drug discovery facilities in Pune. In phase-I, the company has commissioned about 70,000 sq.ft of lab and office space and has another 40,000 sq.ft of expansion space. The new facilities have been designed keeping in mind the collaborative nature of pharmaceutical innovation and need for exchange of ideas between scientists. In another key development, the company also announced it has filed its first Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for a type 2 diabetes molecule and expects to commence phase-I clinical trials shortly after approval.
 Speaking on the occasion, Dr Rashmi Barbhaiya, CEO and managing director, Advinus Therapeutics, said, “The new facility will give us a lot of room for growth of internal programs and innovative models for future partnerships. I’m very proud that in less than three years we have been able to file our first IND for clinical trial approval which is a combined effort of both our Pune and Bangalore operations.”

ABLE partners with Elsevier  to boost biotech SMEs  
The Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE ) and journal publisher Elsevier have entered into a partnership to boost the innovation efforts of biotech  SME (Small and medium enterprise)  members of ABLE. This partnership includes making available online and copyright cleared scientific content from Elsevier to the researcher at their desktops, in a timely and cost-effective manner, which is essential to modern day R&D.
Shrikumar Suryanarayan, director general, ABLE, said, “Biotech SME always needed the scientific information, but did not have resources for accessing it. Through the ABLE-Elsevier partnership, Elsevier’s best-in class scientific information resources like ScienceDirect and Scopus will be made available to SME members of ABLE at a special pricing.’
ABLE would like as many small and medium biotech companies to benefit from this facility and more information can be obtained by visiting www.ableindia.org.
Scientists from many biotech start-ups and SMEs attended this meet which was conducted on June 19, 2009, that marked the launch of this partnership program.  Discussions were held on this offering  which was later followed by a live demonstration of both ScienceDirect and Scopus.

Monsanto, BASF scientists discover drought tolerant gene in corn
Monsanto and German chemical giant BASF scientists unveiled the discovery that a naturally-occurring gene can help corn plants combat drought conditions and confer yield stability during periods of inadequate water supplies.
The companies stated that they will use the gene in their first-generation drought-tolerant corn product which is designed to provide yield stability to farmers. The announcement comes at a time when recent studies, including one by the US National Academy of Sciences, are warning of declining crop yields and global food shortages as a result of climate change. According to a United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization report prepared for ministers of the G-8, the number and duration of dry spells, especially in already drought-prone areas, is expected to increase.
The companies said that the drought-tolerant corn contains the cspB gene, from Bacillus subtilis. CspB codes for an RNA chaperone, which are commonly occurring protein molecules that bind to RNAs and facilitate their function. The gene was first identified in bacteria subjected to cold stress conditions and further research has demonstrated that cspB helps plants cope with drought stress.

Biocon launches long lasting basal insulin Basalog
Biocon, India’s top biotechnology company  has launched a long acting (24 hours) peak less human insulin analogue, Basalog. The product is now available in India in 10 ml and 3 ml vials.
“Diabetes is a debilitating disease that is pervading global populations like a pandemic with India at its epicenter. Biocon is committed to develop affordable insulin-based therapies to manage diabetes. Basalog augments the efficacy of recombinant human insulin and it is our endeavor to play a key role in combating diabetes the world over,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon. 
Basalog (Glargine) is effective for 24 hours and continues to maintain the basal level of insulin required throughout the period thus helping to control glucose levels in the blood, especially fasting plasma glucose (FPG).
Rakesh Bamzai, president, marketing, Biocon, said, “We have launched this treatment at a cost which is 40 percent lower than what is being offered by the innovators. Therefore the affordable pricing which Biocon brings to the Indian market will provide greater access to such a vital drug.”
Currently ADA’09 (American Diabetes Association) guidelines support oral tablets like metformin and  basal therapy (Glargine) as an early regimen for diabetics in order to achieve better glucose control. Many doctors avoid prescribing insulin due to the uncertainty of resulting hypoglycemia and non-compliance of patients who avoid insulin due to the trauma of multiple injections.
Biocon also made an announcement that it has tied up with Bayer for their latest technology Breeze II Glucometer, which allows a more convenient system of glucose monitoring. 

Xcelris Labs gets Bio Excellence Award at Bangalore Bio
Xcelris Labs, a genomics service provider in India, has received the Bio Excellence Award for being the Best Emerging Genomics Service Provider Company of India at the Bangalore Bio 2009 conference held at Bangalore.
The Bio Excellence Awards Nite organized as part of Bangalore Bio 2009 recognized the contribution of biotech companies as well as individuals in the field of biotechnology for their outstanding achievements.
Krishna Handa, founding director, Xcelris Labs, accepted the award from the Nobel Laureate, Dr (Prof.) Richard Roberts, on behalf of the company. On the occasion she said “We are happy to receive this award that signifies our consistent efforts in building-up our genomics services business.”

Aircraft Medical to market portable laryngoscopes in India
UK’s Aircraft Medical,  has  signed a five year exclusive agreement with Hansraj Healthcare  to market and distribute the McGrath Series 5 Laryngoscope, a portable video laryngoscope, in India. Headquartered in Mumbai, Hansraj has branch offices and warehouses in New Delhi and Chennai.
David Bowie, head of sales and marketing,  Aircraft Medical, said, “The launch of the McGrath Series 5 in India represents a significant opportunity for Aircraft Medical. With steady growth in GNP, population numbers and standard of living, India represents one of the most promising markets for medical devices.”
Sadhna Nayyar, managing director of Hansraj, said, “The McGrath Series 5 compliments the existing products in our portfolio. India is an attractive market for global medical device companies, the healthcare market in India is developing rapidly with healthcare funding available from both government and private institutions.”

Monsanto teams up with  Protabit to develop new tools
Monsanto  and Pasadena-based Protabit  have announced a two-year collaboration to develop new tools for protein design and optimization. Development of improved software tools for protein design and optimization can help shorten the product discovery process. This would enable Monsanto to quickly identify pipeline gene candidates.
As part of the deal,  Protabit will develop new software code to integrate computational approaches for protein optimization allowing exchange of information across platforms thus providing more flexibility and easier assimilation of new breakthroughs, speeding up the process of protein design and optimization.

IKF forays into bioanalytics market
IKF, the Noida-based IT company, has  tied up with US-based research scientist, from the University of California, San Diego, and an entrepreneur, in order to launch biological language solutions for the analytics segment of global bioinformatics and computational biology market.
According to Anirban Das, president IT and strategic initiatives, IKF Technologies, “The bioinformatics market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 23 percent to $4.5 billion by 2011. The recommendations from current bioinformatics market reports clearly indicate that software solutions such as biological operating system are the need of the hour. For academia, this model will help the basic research and early stage discovery along with teaching and training of scientists/students.”
Dr Prasad Burra,co-founder, MD and CTO of Helix Genomics  has developed this bioinformatics model. This model is an object oriented biological programming framework available in the market which is named, BioBhasha–Language for Biologist.

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