• 5 October 2012
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Biocon in 'Top 20 biopharma employer'

Biocon, India's premier biotechnology company has received global recognition from the 'Science' magazine, which featured Biocon in its annual global 'Top Twenty Employer' list for the Biopharma sector. According to the survey, Biocon has been ranked at No 19. Biocon is the only Asian company to be a part of the top 20 elite list, which includes leading global innovator companies.

These companies have been ranked on six key parameters: innovative leader in the industry, treats employees with respect, is socially responsible, has loyal employees, does important quality research and makes changes needed. This global ranking reflects the growing power of brand Biocon, which is ably supported by its valuable partners, customers, employees and all other stake holders.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and MD, Biocon said, “We are in the distinguished company of leading global Biotech companies and we will wear this badge of honour with a sense of leadership and responsibility that will enable us to take greater strides to move up the leader board.”

Sanofi, TB Alliance tie up in TB research

Sanofi and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) announced a new research collaboration agreement to accelerate the discovery and development of novel compounds against tuberculosis (TB), a deadly infectious disease that resulted in almost 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2010.

Under the agreement, Sanofi and TB Alliance will collaborate to further optimize and develop several novel compounds in Sanofi's library that have demonstrated activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB. This includes in-depth research of lead compounds based upon identified chemical derivatives of?natural products, which have promising potential to treat all forms of TB, and the chemical optimization of other series of compounds that have been identified as hits through high-throughput screening.

“Personalized shipment services”

LifeCell International, India's largest and accredited stem cell storage company announced its partnership with Sequel Logistics, India - a specialist in critical logistics, to offer “personalized shipment service” of the umbilical cord blood and tissue samples.

Personalised shipment is an innovative change in international critical logistics. LifeCell would be offering 'personalised shipment' to its customers with immediate effect. This service will now be available throughout the countrywide network of LifeCell with presence in over 100 cities and towns.

Ranbaxy to set up manufacturing unit in Malaysia

Ranbaxy Malaysia Sdn. Bhd (RMSB), a joint venture of Ranbaxy, India and Malaysian shareholders has received approval for setting up a greenfield manufacturing facility in Malaysia as an EPP (Entry Point Project) from the Government of Malaysia.

Ranbaxy will be investing around $40 million in this project that will provide employment to over 200 people. It will be Ranbaxy's second manufacturing facility in Malaysia. The new facility would manufacture dosage forms including tablets and capsules primarily in the cardiovascular, anti-diabetic, anti-infective and gastrointestinal segments.

Panacea Biotec sets its eyes on generics

Panacea Biotec has entered into a strategic alliance for the research, development and commercialization of drug delivery-based, high barrier to generic and branded pharmaceutical products in the US and key strategic markets across the globe, with Osmotica Pharmaceutical, a global pharmaceutical company specializing in drug delivery technologies. The collaboration is designed to build upon each company's highly complementary strengths and quality assets.

Under the collaboration, Panacea Biotec would lead product identification, research, development and manufacturing, while Osmotica would lead product registration, legal matters, marketing, sales and distribution. The products are expected to be sold under Osmotica and Panacea Biotec labels.

Biopharma witnesses drop in hiring

The overall economic crunch has resulted in companies adopting a cautious approach in their hiring plans. Naukri.com, a major job site in India, in its survey on the pharma sector has revealed a drop in overall hiring sentiment. 51 percent recruiters are expecting to add new jobs in the second half of 2012 which is 16 percent lower than what was predicted by them in January 2012 survey.

Talent crunch seems to be an important issue being faced by recruiters in the Pharma sector as 73 percent said that it is very difficult to find talent suitable for a job profile. A deeper analysis of the job scenario for the sector shows that about 33 percent jobs created in the pharma sector in 2012 are from Mumbai, 12 percent from Hyderabad and 11 percent from Bengaluru. Most job openings in the sector are for jobseekers in the 3- 5 years experience levels.

WHO lauds India's TB control efforts

The 5th Government of India-WHO Joint Monitoring Mission (JMM) of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), Government of India, has endorsed the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for TB Control (2012-2017). NSP has set the goal of universal access to early diagnosis and effective treatment.

JMM has also lauded the government on its efforts in TB control. However, endorsing the plan, it also cautioned that successful implementation requires an urgent and emphatic expansion in the prioritization, development, financing and deployment of innovative activities to rapidly detect and correctly treat TB cases irrespective of care in public or private sectors, so as to save 750,000 lives over the next five years and transform TB control in India.

Sanofi's dengue vaccine close to reality

A study published in the the online version of the journal, The Lancet has announced the results of the world's first efficacy study by Sanofi Pasteur for its eagerly awaited dengue vaccine. In the study, the vaccine has shown the ability to protect against dengue fever caused by three of the four dengue virus types.

Dr Scott Halstead, International Vaccine Institute, Seoul, Republic of Korea has said that the vaccine has met the highest safety expectations. The study was conducted in 4,002 children aged 4 to 11 years, in partnership with the Mahidol University under the patronage of the Thai Ministry of Public Health in Muang district of the Ratchaburi Province. Sanofi Pasteur's dengue vaccine candidate is a live, attenuated vaccine. The vaccination schedule is 3 doses given 6 months apart (at 0, 6 and 12 months).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted fast-track designation to the company's investigational dengue vaccine keeping in mind the far reaching impact it can have. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by four dengue virus serotypes (1 to 4). It is a threat to nearly three billion people and a health priority in many countries of Latin America and Asia where epidemics occur.

ICRISAT celebrates 40 years of existence

“Inclusive agriculture is the key to winning the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the dryland tropics of the world,” said Prof MS Swaminathan, one of the architects of ICRISAT's creation, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, India and chairman, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.

In his talk as chief guest at the 40th anniversary program of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at its Patancheru campus, Prof Swaminathan highlighted the need for inclusiveness to empower the farming of the poor. By giving smallholder farmers access to technologies and connecting them to markets, they will have options for a more profitable and resilient agriculture towards achieving food, nutrition and economic security.

Prof Swaminathan also recognized ICRISAT's four decades of commitment and dedicated service to the most underprivileged sector of the world, the poor in the dryland tropics. He posed a number of challenges to the Institute including crop biofortification to combat the 'hidden hunger' or malnutrition due to micronutrient deficiencies prevailing in the developing world; and appropriate mechanization to help resource poor farmers, particularly women, in ensuring the economic viability of small-farm operations. Prof. Swaminathan also raised the important role of science communication to inform, educate and mobilize the public on the importance of such technologies as agri-biotechnology in the fight against poverty and hunger, and the decision makers to come up with supportive policies.


Biological E. launches JE vaccine

Intercell, a vaccine biotechnology company from Austria announced that its partner Biological E. Ltd. launched the product JEEV-a vaccine to protect children and adults from Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in India. The vaccine, manufactured by Biological E. at its facility in Hyderabad and based on Intercell's technology was approved by the Drugs Controller General of India.

Japanese Encephalitis is endemic in Asia and Southeast Asia, a region with more than 3 billion inhabitants. In 2005, an epidemic outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in Uttar Pradesh, India, and Nepal killed more than 1,200 children. During the same year, Intercell and Biological E. signed a contract for the development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution in India and the Indian subcontinent of Intercell's Japanese Encephalitis vaccine.

Biological E. plans to focus its sales efforts of JEEV initially on private market customers including pediatricians and general practitioners. To ensure a successful product launch, Biological E. has recruited and trained its own sales force, which will initially be fully dedicated to the product. According to the product label, the initial approval age groups of the vaccine are children (=1 - <3 years of age) and adults (=18 - =49 years of age). First deliveries of JEEV are planned between mid-September and beginning of October, with full scale commercial manufacturing commencing shortly thereafter.

The vaccine's further regulatory approval route for other Asian territories is expected through the World Health Organization – Novartis will be responsible for the marketing and distribution in these countries.

Opto Circuits launches cardiac stent

Opto Eurocor Healthcare, a subsidiary of Opto Circuits (India), launched its first Sirolimus Drug Eluting Stent (DES), E-MAGIC Plus, on receipt of drug controller general of India's license to sell and market the product in India. With the launch of E-MAGIC Plus, Opto Circuits becomes one of the few global players to offer DES products with a choice of two drug coatings.

The Sirolimus DES market is estimated to be worth 800 crore in India. Opto Eurocor Healthcare will launch E-MAGIC Plus in the European and Latin-American market after receiving the necessary approvals. E-MAGIC Plus consists of a balloon-expandable intra coronary cobalt chromium stent pre-mounted on a custom balloon delivery system with a Sirolimus coating and a biodegradable polymer. The E-MAGIC Plus stent releases a distinctive anti-rejection drug, Sirolimus (also known as Rapamycin), into the arterial wall. Sirolimus helps control excess growth of cells and allows the artery to heal. E-MAGIC Plus stent has an extra edge with soft tip technology to provide smooth access to the lesion site ensuring minimal trauma to the vessel wall.

CSIR, a world leader in biotech products says PM

Post globalization and joining world trade organization (WTO), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) quickly emerged as the flag bearer of the intellectual property movement in the country, becoming the single largest holder of the US and European patents. The Council, in recent years, has also become a world leader in specific domains of biotechnology and recombinant DNA products. This was stated by the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh at the 70th foundation day function of CSIR held on September 26, 2012 in New Delhi.

Complimenting the Council on its unique attempt to make healthcare affordable by exploiting the power of open source drug discovery, Dr Singh felt that as a concept, this is a global first and the world has turned from skepticism to partnership.

Dr Singh mentioned that when India became a victim of technology denial, CSIR laboratories created advanced products and technologies, such as India's first super computer, radiation shielding glasses and components for aerospace and satellites, emerging as a credible partner for our strategic sector. “During this time, the Council also catapulted India as the top generic drug producer,” Dr Singh pointed out.

Dr Singh admitted that the country has not been able to mobilize enough private investment into science to raise investment in scientific research to two percent of GDP. With 26 September being the birthday of both Prime minister as well as Dr Samir Brahmachari, director general, CSIR, Dr Singh shared his happiness to be part of celebrations.

Thermo Scientific expands product portfolio

Thermo Scientific recently launched Multiskan GO spectrophotometer that can support endpoint, kinetic and spectral scanning assays at very fast speeds. Temperature-critical assays can benefit from a precise temperature control feature, which allows any measurement wavelength between 200 and 1000 nm to be selected at any time with the advanced monochromator-based optical system.

Additionally, Thermo Scientific Sorvall RC 12BP Plus Centrifuge, a large-capacity, high-throughput floor standing centrifuge for blood banking and bioprocessing applications was also launched. With a maximum capacity of 12 l, the centrifuge can process up to 12 blood bag systems. Easy and intuitive set-up and operation are facilitated by the user-friendly interface, which incorporates a 15-program memory.

BD Biosciences launches FACSJazz System

BD Biosciences launched BD FACSJazz Cell Sorting System. It is a next-generation flow cytometer that simplifies cellular isolation and analysis for researchers requiring high sample integrity. Occupying 51 cm x 51 cm of benchtop space, the new sorter features high sensitivity to identify and isolate target cells for up to eight parameters.

The new BD FACSJazz Cell Sorting System will have broad utility for next-generation genomic studies. The system is capable of identifying, characterizing and isolating single or multiple cells and depositing them in 96 and 384 well plates with precision, accuracy and rapidity. It incorporates customer input from a 2011 global early access program. As a result, refinements were made to enhance usability and ease of use.

GE Healthcare introduces LED Phototherapy System

Wipro GE Healthcare, GE Healthcare's business arm in India, has introduced its Lullaby LED Phototherapy System to address the challenges in the neo-natal segment. The Lullaby LED system, developed at the GE India Technology Center, is designed to offer safe, efficient and easy phototherapy to treat infants with hyperbilirubinemia (neonatal jaundice), a condition caused when there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Lullaby LED Phototherapy system utilizes LED technology to reduce power consumption as well as overall replacement costs to achieve up to 80 percent energy savings.

This product has also been chosen by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) as the best innovation in 2012 and has been awarded the Healthcare Excellence Award.

Agilent, Molecular Discovery tie-up for drug research

Agilent Technologies has entered into a comarketing agreement with Molecular Discovery to provide biopharmaceutical researchers with an advanced metabolite-identification platform. The companies will comarket the combined assets of Agilent's liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry technology and Molecular Discovery's Mass-MetaSite software to enable superior identification and analysis of complex biological mixtures.

The company noted that this comarketing program provides customers with a turnkey solution that bridges the gap between sophisticated laboratory software and hardware capabilities. The analytical benefits of Agilent's high-resolution instruments, integrated with Molecular Discovery's robust predictive metabolite-identification software tools, will advance drug research and discovery.

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