The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has
given the go ahead to the trials of three more genetically modified
(GM) crops. The committee that met on July 30, 2010, in Hyderabad,
considered requests from three companies namely Syngenta Biosciences,
JK Agri Genetics and Dow Agrosciences India, and permitted them to
carry out the field trials of some specific GM crops.
Considering the recommendations of the Review Committee on Genetic
Manipulation (RCGM), GEAC gave permission to Syngenta Biosciences to
conduct Biosafety Research Level-I (BRL-I) trials on transgenic corn
hybrids namely NK-6240 containing cry1Ab genes. The trials will be
conducted at one location each within the institutional research farm
in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The committee also approved the request from JK Agri Genetics to
conduct second year BRL-1 trials on two transgenic cotton (HXH) hybrids
such as JKCH-1947 Bt EGII and JKCH-1050 Bt EGII containing cry1Ac and
cry1EC at two locations in the north zone during kharif 2011 in Punjab
and Rajasthan, as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs)
guidelines. Earlier RCGM had recommended the same.
The third company to be given permission is Dow Agrosciences India,
which has been allowed to conduct BRL-II with WideStrike cotton hybrids
such as WS103 and WS106 containing cry1F (Event 281-24-236) and cry1Ac
(Event 3006-210-23) in the south zone. The trials will be conducted in
Hyderabad, Guntur and Jaggayapetta in Andhra Pradesh; Dharwad and
Haveri in Karnataka; and Coimbatore, Salem and Attur in Tami Nadu. The
permission was given after the recommendations of RCGM and after the
company submitted the documents related to the food, feed biosafety
studies, environmental biosafety, biosafety research trials and
associated studies to GEAC.
Biocon launches critical illnesses division
Indian biotech major, Biocon, has launched a new Comprehensive Care
Division, dedicated to provide affordable solutions to critical
illnesses like nosocomial infections, post-surgical complications,
trauma and medical emergencies. This would be the fifth division for
Biocon, complementing the existing product portfolios in diabetology,
oncology, nephrology and cardiology divisions.
“There is a perceptible increase in hospital-acquired infections with
respect to critical care illnesses in India. This often requires
treatment with specialized anti-infectives. Biocon’s Comprehensive Care
Division has been set up to counter this growing challenge by providing
affordable and specialized solutions to such patients,” said Dr Kiran
Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon.
According to the company, with the motto of improving life, this new
division will further extend the reach of Biocon’s existing branded
formulations to the critical care area. The division is introducing
five new products in the initial phase of launch, for the treatment of
critical illnesses like septicemia, nosocomial pneumonia and other
acute hospital infections. These products will include platforms based
on pneumocandins (a class of echinocandins), lipopeptides, specialized
cephalosporins and carbapenams.
cases decline 12% in India
With the implementation of Revised National Tuberculosis (TB) Control
Program, the estimated rate of TB prevalence (number of TB cases both
new and old, in a year) is on the decline in India.
Quoting the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report 2009, the
minister for health and family welfare, Government of India, Ghulam
Nabi Azad, said, “The TB prevalence in India is currently 185 per
100,000 people as compared to 283 per 100,000 people in 2007. Periodic
prevalence surveys conducted under the model of Directly Observed
Treatment Short course project by the Tuberculosis Research Center
(TRC), Chennai, has shown 12 percent annual decline in prevalence of
Lohmann in Indian JV for poultry vax
Lohmann Animal Health, a global major in animal health business,
focusing on poultry biologicals, joins hands with Indian poultry
company, Suguna, for manufacturing and marketing its range of
The joint venture (JV) company –Globion India Private Limited– is
located at Genome Valley, Hyderabad. The total amount of investment in
the JV is approximately
crore ($15 million).
Globion has recently commissioned a state-of-the-art vaccine
manufacturing facility complying with GMP standards. Globion is set
to produce a basket of poultry vaccines – live and inactivated –
for breeders, layers and broilers. The products will be marketed under
the brand GlobiVac.
UK to partner with India in
India and Britain are leaving no stone unturned in
cultivating an “enhanced relationship” in matters of science and
innovation. Newly anointed British Prime Minister, David Cameron,
during his recent visit to India, wooed the Indian scientific community
with the announcement of a
crore (£45 million) partnership between the UK charity
organization, the Wellcome Trust and India’s Department of
Biotechnology (DBT), to support the development of new healthcare
products in India. The agreement builds on the existing Wellcome
Trust-DBT Alliance – a five-year,
crore (£80 million)-initiative, which seeks to strengthen Indian
biomedical sciences, through a series of fellowship programs. Other
collaborations announced during the trip include a
crore (£4 million) R&D agreement between the medical research
councils of both the countries.
The special connection between India and the UK particularly in
biotechnology, is not a recent phenomenon. In late 2009, three
institutions from India and the UK–University of Nottingham; Indian
Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore; and the Indian Institute of
Technology (IIT), Kanpur–got together to sign a
crore (£1.5 million) UK-India Science Bridge, Biopharm 2020. This
bridge would be a catalyst to provide incentives to scientists for
research, moulding them towards commercializing their research benefits.
ICMR, MRC allot fund for Indo-UK
With changing demography, there is a risk of growing epidemic in Indian
population. Therefore, with an aim to promote the research and to
strengthen the existing partnerships, the Indian Council for Medical
Research (ICMR) and the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) has jointly
initiated a research funding for non-communicable diseases. The call
aims to promote collaborations between Indian and UK investigators in
the area of chronic non-communicable diseases research, exploiting the
mutual strengths of the two communities.
The partnership between ICMR and MRC aims to combine the strengths of
the Indian and UK Chronic Disease Research communities. The proposed
research program should be related to prevailing chronic diseases in
India and the UK. In addition, the outcomes should ideally be
meaningful to a wider international audience. The research should
involve collaboration and co-leadership between Indian and UK
researchers/groups and encompass work in India and the UK.
Applicants will be encouraged to take a multi-disciplinary approach
including health economics, social science, bio-statistics, data
management, other allied health and non-health disciplines, where
ICMR will provide funding to Indian researchers for research based in
lakh ($0.10million) to
lakh ($0.21 million) will be available per project for its entire
duration for the ICMR-funded portion of the costs. The funds are to be
utilized in India only. MRC will provide
funding to the UK applicants. Approximately
crore (£500,000) to
crore (£800,000) is available per project for the MRC-funded
portion of the costs.
$110 mn foreign funding for AIDS
control in India
According to the information from the minister of state for health and
family welfare, Dinesh Trivedi, the external aid component of National
AIDS Control Program III (NACP-III) for years 2007-12 in India,
was projected at
crore ($110 millon).
The minister added that the source of the funding includes aid from the
World Bank, Department for International Development, Global Fund,
United States Agency for International Aid and United Nations
Development Program. The joint funding from the World Bank and
Department of International Development stands at
crore; and the funding from the Global Fund is at
defers phase III trials of JE vax
A Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee meet in Hyderabad, decided to
defer its decision on granting permission to conduct phase III clinical
trials of Japanese Encephalitis Chimeric Virus Vaccine (JE-CV) by
Sanofi Pasteur India.
This decision has come despite the recommendation of Indian Council for
Medical Research. Members expressed concern that JE-CV, a chimeric
Flavivrus vaccine was derived from 17D strain of yellow fever vaccine
and attenuated strain of JE virus. As Flaviviruses are viable,
non-homologous recombination between different Flavivirus species,
there is an environmental risk of its dissemination from the blood of
immunized subjects through mosquitoes.
Maharashtra tops swine flu casualty list
With the onset of monsoon season, Maharashtra once again
retained the top slot in the swine flu casualties. The number of
reported deaths has reached 115 out of the 1,005 laboratory-confirmed
cases during the current monsoon season.
With the 76 reported deaths out of lab-confirmed cases of 1,360 Kerala
comes at the second spot after Maharashtra. Karnataka had 381 confirmed
cases and out of that 21 deaths were reported in all.
Maharashtra refuses swine flu vaccines
The efforts by the government to contain the swine flu in Maharashtra,
have received a setback, as the medical fraternity seems to be worried
over the side-effects of the swine flu vaccines. Besides, the fact that
the immunity remains only for 12 months and that the vaccine does not
guarantee 100 percent immunity to the population, has made the doctors
and medical staff to doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The Government of Maharashtra has proposed to return 30,000 doses of
the unutilized vaccine, to the central government. The center has
supplied almost 34,300 doses of Tamiflu vaccine to the state of
Maharashtra from its total purchase order, placed with the French drug
maker Sanofi Pasteur.
Hrudayalaya ties up with Strand
Bangalore-based Strand Life Sciences and Mazumdar Shaw Comprehensive
Cancer Centre (MSCC) of the Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH) have signed a
memorandum of understanding(MoU) in translational cancer research.
The partnership is aimed at performing joint research and training in
the field of translational cancer genomics and proteomics initially,
leading to early detection, cure, and prolonging lives of cancer
patients and providing affordable solutions. This collaboration would
also lead to establishing one of the largest translational cancer
centers in India.
Both the institutes have started a pilot program on comprehensive study
of head and neck cancer, the leading cancer of India. The partnership
will enable ground-breaking discoveries and affordable solutions for
head and neck cancer patients. An exciting outcome of the partnership
is to create opportunities for young Indian scientists and clinicians
to work with global leaders and have access to cutting-edge scientific
tools. Strand, also is a part of the public-private partnership (PPP)
initiative to build the state-of-the-art functional genomics, and
next-generation sequencing center in Bangalore along with the
Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology and Science and
Technology, Government of Karnataka and Department of Information
Technology, Government of India. The center, named Ganit Labs, would be
at the forefront of solving scientific issues and contribute in the
genomics research and training.
Prof Vijay Chandru, chairman and CEO, Strand Life Sciences said, “It is
a privilege to engage in an agreement with Narayana Hrudalaya to
continue to advance important translational research that will lead to
a better understanding of cancer to help patients in India and around
the world. This, in turn, will hopefully lead to developing better
diagnostic techniques and therapeutics.”
DBT calls for Indo-Finnish tie-up
With an aim to launch ambitious joint projects of a high international
standard in diagnostics between Indian and Finnish organizations, the
Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has invited proposals from Indian and
Finnish industry partners. The potential projects will be funded by DBT
in India and Tekes, a funding agency for technology and innovation in
The requirements include the partners to apply for funding from their
national funding organizations. Indian and Finnish co-applicants will
have to develop a joint project plan and send to both the DBT and Tekes
together with the funding organization-specific documents.
The deadline for submitting the research proposals is September 10,
BEST India promotes entrepreneurship
Biotechnology Entrepreneurs Students Program (BEST) is an innovative
scheme that allows student teams to showcase scientific ideas in life
sciences that has merits of commercialization and scaling up.
This year again, online submission of concept notes saw exceedingly
good response. Two rounds of screening resulted in short listing of 20
teams that attended a residential entrepreneurship workshop at
DBT awards three prizes of
lakh to the three top teams. This year, to encourage and motivate
budding entrepreneurs across India, ABLE decided to award another set
of the same prizes.