Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh while addressing the
convocation ceremony at the Govind Ballabh Pant University of
Agriculture and Technology, Uttarakhand, on June 19, 2010, said that
policymakers and scientists need to put their heads together and work
towards developing and implementing sustainable technologies that can
produce more from less in the background of the new challenges of
global warming and climate change.
He said that without solid support from agricultural scientists and
technologists it would have been impossible to achieve the
production targets. “There is a widespread feeling that there has not
been any really big breakthrough in agricultural technologies since the
green revolution of the late 1960s. This is a real challenge to the
agricultural universities and our agricultural scientists in the
country. India commands about 2.3 percent of the world’s land area and
about four percent of the earth’s fresh water resources, but feeds
about 17 percent of the world’s population. This puts tremendous
pressure on our resources and makes the need for newer and better
technologies even more critical,” said Dr Singh.
While highlighting the government’s efforts in this direction during
the last six years, the Prime Minister said, “The central government
has endeavored to give the highest priority to agriculture. A number of
centrally sponsored programs have been started to increase investment
and to tap the unused potential for achieving higher productivity and
Singh also spoke about the agricultural extension as another area which
needs urgent attention, particularly from the state governments.
Avesthagen completes efficacy
trials of Avent
Avesthagen has successfully completed the pre-clinical efficacy trial
for one of its biosimilar drugs, Avent, at Biomedcode Hellas. The
results indicate that Avent developed by Avesthagen is effective in
addressing arthritic conditions.
Avent is the biosimilar version of a fully-humanized soluble tumor
necrosis factor (TNF) receptor. Avent is indicated for reducing signs
and symptoms, in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis,
ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and
juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Pre-clinical efficacy of Avent was carried out in a US FDA accredited
human TNF transgenic murine model for rheumatoid arthritis. In these
mice, the human TNF gene is over-expressed, which results in a
progressive arthritic phenotype that is similar to that observed in
humans. The results show that Avesthagen’s biosimilar Avent was
effective in preventing the arthritic pathology developing in the
transgenic mice when compared to control mice.
Marked improvement was also evident in the group of mice treated with
Avent in comparison to control group of mice, in all scores measured,
namely statistically significant arthritis inhibition of about 60
percent in histopathology and about 80 percent with in-life clinical
Avesthagen has successfully developed a proprietary expression vector
technology pAVGEN to generate high protein yielding mammalian cell
lines. The Avent cell line have been developed using this proprietary
technology. This product is currently being scaled up for clinical
trials at Inno Biologics facility in Malaysia.
consider commercialization of medicinal plants
India’s biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee in
its meeting held on June 9, 2010, in Hyderabad, decided to consider the
views from the Department of Ayush, Ministry of Health and Family
Welfare, GoI, on commercialization of transgenic medicinal plants.
This decision was taken on a request by the Department of Ayush to the
Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoEF) to co-opt the CEO of the
National Medicinal Plants Board; adviser (Ayurveda) Department of
Ayush; and DG of the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine to
the GEAC or to hear their concerns on commercialization of transgenic
promote agricultural R&D in hilly regions
For the first time since the establishment of first Krishi Vigyan
Kendra (KVK) at Pondicherry, India, in 1974, Dr S Ayyappan, secretary
of the Department of Agricultural Research (DARE) and director general,
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), had interaction with
the program coordinators of 38 KVKs at the recently concluded 21st
Regional Committee Meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural
Research (ICAR), India.
This three-day meeting held at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of
Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu (SKUAST-J), from June
10-12, 2010, discussed the ways to promote research in the states of
Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand.
India, Denmark to strengthen biotech
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government
of India, and the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
have decided to further develop and strengthen the Danish-Indian
research collaboration within the biotechnological area. In this
regard, the DBT and the Danish program commission have invited
researchers from universities, research institutions and private
companies in India and Denmark that are conducting research within the
biotechnology area to apply for funding of joint Indo-Danish strategic
The aim of this call is for the funded project to be able to deliver
considerable and tangible results at the end of the project period.
Hence, the criteria has been kept as joint proposals that must be based
on existing collaborations in the form of co-publication, PhD exchange,
project collaboration or other relevant research-related activities of
significant strength and importance within the field of biotechnology.
The project proposal has to be written jointly by an Indian and a
Danish research group and specify unison and close collaboration.
The DBT and the program commission will support a joint strategic
research project for a period of three-to-five years covering direct
project costs. The total fund allocation is approximately Rs 11.42
crore. The final decision on which proposal to support will be made
public in December 2010. The funded research project is expected to
start early 2011.
India extends its partnership with Germany
in health research
To support the R&D projects in the fields of common interest, the
Indian government represented by Indian Council for Medical Research
(ICMR) and German government represented by the International Bureau of
the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (IB-BMBF at DLR),
have invited proposals for Indo-German cooperation in health research.
The projects proposed to commence from February 1, 2011 include
oncology, neurosciences, regenerative medicine and infectious diseases
on the top priority. The scientists/faculty members working in regular
capacity in universities, private/public R&D
laboratories/institutes are eligible to apply under this program. The
last date of submission of the form is set as June 30, 2010.
The purpose of the funding is to stimulate new collaborations like the
preparation of joint projects under national funding programs. The
program facilitates bilateral cooperation between the scientific
communities in India and Germany through joint research projects,
bilateral workshops/seminars, exchange visits of scientists, scientific
delegations and composite (scientific and industrial) delegation. Both
sides will explore the possibility of funding from the European Union
The ICMR, Department of Health Research (DHR), Ministry of Health and
Family Welfare, Government of India, and the IB-BMBF at DLR, are the
nodal implementing agencies from the Indian and German sides
OPPI releases code on conduct for clinical
In order to ensure that safety and well-being of research participants
are fully-protected, Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India
(OPPI) has set forth the code on conduct for clinical trials as
guidance for member companies. In this regard, OPPI has recently
released a booklet titled ‘OPPI code on conduct of clinical trials’.
The key issues that have been addressed are protecting research
participants, conduct of clinical trials, ensuring objectivity in
research, and disclosure of clinical trial and its results.
The main purpose is to reinforce the commitment to the safety of
research participants and to address issues that bear on this
commitment in the context of clinical trials that enroll research
participants and are designed, conducted or sponsored (partially or
fully) by member companies.
The report has emphasized on the fact that the OPPI members conduct
clinical trials in a manner that recognizes the importance of
protecting the rights, safety and well-being of research participants.
The interactions with research participants, as well as with
clinical investigators and other persons/entities involved in clinical
trials, recognize the fundamental principle and reinforce the
precautions established to protect research participants.
The report also mentions that the investigator initiated studies,
registries and any other organized data collection system like market
research or health economic studies are outside the scope of this code
unless collected as part of clinical trial.
Ansal to set up Rs 1,000 cr biotech park
Ansal API, an Indian real estate company, is planning to set up an
80-acre biotech park in Lucknow with an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.
The proposed biotech firm, expected to be launched by year-end, would
house around 42 biotech firms and a central processing zone with
state-of-the-art facilities including high-tech labs.
According to sources, Ansal API is in talks with Biocon and few other
overseas companies, to set up the central processing zone. The realty
firm is also keen on an exclusive tie-up with a single company to set
up this zone, which is proposed to function as a common resource pool
for all other firms in the park.
Biotech Consortium of India Limited (BCIL), a consultancy firm jointly
promoted by the Department of Biotechnology, financial institutions
like the ICICI, IDBI among others and corporate firms such as Ranbaxy
Labs, Lupin Labs, has been commissioned to draw up a detailed business
plan for the project. This venture would be located amidst the
sprawling Sushant Golf City, a township project of Ansal API spread
across around 3,500 acre in Lucknow, India.
The total investment in the park is in the range of Rs 1,500-2,000
crore, of which Ansal’s investment is likely to be in the range of Rs
800-1,000 crore, inclusive of the land cost. While a large chunk of
investment involves the land bank that the company already owns, the
rest of it is expected to be invested by companies that become partners
in the project.
‘Jammu & Kashmir is capable of becoming
a biopharma hub’: Omar Abdullah
Addressing a one-day workshop on ‘Bio-Pharma Hub:
Advantage Jammu and Kashmir’ organized by the Associated Chambers of
Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Chief Minister of Jammu and
Kashmir (J&K), Omar Abdullah urged for involving local
entrepreneurs in exploring possibilities and advantages of this sector
for setting up small and medium industrial units.
“You need to engage local entrepreneurs to make necessary dent in this
field and begin the activities utilizing the raw material abundantly
available across the state. Before going for bigger ventures the
activity can be started on smaller and medium scale,” suggested
Abdullah added that he is hopeful that ASSOCHAM would focus on
encouraging and associating local players in its efforts and intention
of utilizing Jammu and Kashmir’s advantage as biopharma hub. “We have a
high-class talent pool present in the state. Upgradation and creation
of skills required in the biopharma and similar sectors is needed.”
Surjit Singh Slathia, the Minister for Industries and Commerce, Jammu
& Kashmir, said, “In the recent years, a large number of big and
small pharma companies have shown interest in the state and investment
for the sector is in the pipeline. We are trying to rope in investment
worth Rs 1,500 crore in pharma sector, which in turn would generate
about 3,000 jobs.”
Slathia also added that J&K is a rich depository of medicinal
plants which could be utilized for biopharma products of various ranges.
establish AcSIR to enhance innovation
On June 18, 2010, the Government of India, approved a proposal of the
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for setting up of
an Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR) in the
It will function as an institution for imparting instruction and
awarding degrees in frontier areas of science and technology. The bill
to set up the academy will be introduced during monsoon session of
The academy will primarily focus on research and imparting training in
such areas that are not ordinarily provided by existing universities in
India. The curricula, pedagogy and evaluation will be innovative and
directed towards creating the highest quality personnel in
While utilizing existing resources and facilities of CSIR, the academy
will operate on a self-sustaining mode. The recurring expenses will be
Rs 19.10 crore in the 11th Plan and Rs 61.79 crore in the 12th Plan.
The main purpose behind setting up the academy is the decline in the
number of PhD holders. The academy will be headquartered in Noida, and
will produce 1,000 PhDs in science and technology and 120 in
engineering every year after the five years of its commencement.
The academy will also have campuses in 37 CSIR laboratories that are
re-linked with the National Knowledge Network. CSIR has a pool of 4,500
scientists from different areas of science and it is expected that it
could deploy 2,500 of them for the works in the academy.