• 5 September 2007
  • News
  • By Jahanara Parveen


New Page 1

Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine launched

The Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine (MIRM ), a new initiative of Manipal University, has been created to transform stem cell science into reality by bringing together a group of outstanding scientists and providing them with an exceptional research environment. MIRM is a constituent institution of Manipal University located at Bangalore.

MIRM has launched a Masters level degree and training program to equip students from biological and/or medical related backgrounds with specialist knowledge and the research skills to pursue a career in the field of regenerative medicine. The course is focused on strategies to repair, replace and ultimately regenerate various tissues and organs to solve major clinical problems. Regenerative medicine as a discipline shows enormous potential economically and there is a global demand for specific multidisciplinary training in this area.

The MIRM center was inaugurated on August 18, 2007 by Dr HS Ballal, pro-chancellor, Manipal University, in the presence of Dr Ranjan Pai, managing director and CEO, Manipal Education and Medical Group and Dr Raj Warrier, vice chancellor, Manipal University.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Vinod Bhat, registrar, Manipal University, said, "The MSc degree from MIRM is the first of its kind in the country and the Asia/Pacific region; in fact very few universities internationally offer such an extensive program. After obtaining the masters degree, the students can register for a PhD, however the program is also of value to students wishing to progress in the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology companies or clinical applications".

BN Manohar, president, Stempeutics Research, said, "MIRM students can leverage on existing industrial support, via Stempeutics Research Pvt Ltd (SRPL), a commercial entity of Manipal Group. Stempeutics Research Pvt Ltd (SRPL) is a leading stem cell company of India, focused on research and product development of human stem cell technology in the field of regenerative medicine".

Dr Satish Totey, director, MIRM, said, "MIRM boasts of excellent laboratory facilities, with state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment. Each student has the space to perform their own experiments. The institute being associated with a hospital gives the added advantage of performing procedures like apheresis, bone marrow transplantation etc. The MSc degree renders its graduates productive from the day of their graduation. It does away with the need for any form of training as the course is more skill-intensive. The academic year of 2007 has already started with 30 students enrolled for the course."

Dr Vijay Sharma, dean, MIRM, said, "Regenerative medicine is a rapidly emerging area of biomedical research with enormous therapeutic potential. As the academic research base broadens and the industry begins to adapt to new technologies, the demand for skills in this area is rapidly increasing, resulting in excellent opportunities for graduates with training in this area. Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine (MIRM) is at the forefront of stem cell research in the Asia Pacific Region."


Indian Immunologicals launches nutraceuticals for animals

Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), has made its foray into the animal feeds segment by launching a range of dairy nutrition products.

The products include: Calsagar (a technologically superior animal feed supplement in pellet form, containing calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D3), for improved milk production, improved fat and SNF content in milk; Garbhamin Bolus (contains essential trace minerals in chelated form and coated vitamins) for superior reproductive performance, and Goumix, which is the first customized mineral supplement in the country for livestock based on regional mineral mapping carried out by NDDB.

These products have been launched in line with IIL's mission to provide technologically superior health care products and feed supplements to the dairy farmers at affordable prices. In order to supplement essential nutrients and to enhance production, dairy farmers in India supplement the cattle feed with different types of tonics and vitamin/ mineral premixes. However, most of these feed supplements do not meet the nutrient requirements of animals. The most commonly used feed supplement is calcium tonic, as it is essential for milk production and bone formation. Calcium supplementation in dairy farms is usually done through oral liquid suspensions through product similar to human preparations. However, this is not only expensive and wasteful for the dairy farmers, but is also poorly absorbed in the animal body.

IIL has recognized this special need of dairy animals and has through its own research and backing of NDDB, formulated special calcium and phosphorus feed supplement. This supplement, named as Calsagar is superior in performance, convenient to use and quite affordable compared to various preparations in the market. The efficacy of Calsagar in enhancing milk production and improving health and conception rate has been proven through rigorous trials in leading veterinary colleges.


Serum Institute of India launches low-cost HIB vaccine in India

Serum Institute of India Ltd, India's largest vaccine manufacturer, has announced the launch of its indigenously manufactured low-cost Haemophilus influenza type b conjugate vaccine under the brand name of HibPRO in India. HibPRO has been priced at Rs 375 for a monodose vial. HibPRO is a vaccine with clinically proven efficacy and safety at an affordable price; hence it is a world-class vaccine at Indian price.

Haemophilus influenza causes infections that are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in young children spreading through droplets. Children below 5 years of age are at highest risk of the disease and is rarely seen after 5 years of age. Every year globally around 3 to 5 lakh children die due to H influenza type b disease. HIB vaccines are safe and highly effective.

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman, Serum Institute of India Ltd, said, "HibPRO has undergone series of clinical trials to prove its efficacy and safety in comparison with commercially available Hib conjugate vaccines. With the launch of HibPRO serum can extend the benefits of pentavalent or quadravalent vaccines at a very affordable price. These benefits are mainly fewer numbers of injections, lesser pain to the child and protection against multiple diseases such as H. influenza type b, Hepatitis-B, Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus in one injection."


Bangalore Nano 2007 to focus on commercialization of nanotechnology

The Bangalore Nano 2007 Convention, a two-day event on nanoscience and technology and the first major event of its kind in the country, was launched on August 22, 2007. The event, to be held on December 6-7, 2007, will be organised by the Department of Science and Technology in association with Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). The theme of the event is: 'Bridging the research-industry gap in Nanotechnology'.

CNR Rao, honorary president, JNCASR, and the chief mentor of Bangalore Nano, said, "Nanotechnology, which has a global business potential of nearly $1 trillion, has many valuable societal application for the unprivileged in the country, including the creation of a more efficient filtering systems for producing clean drinking water and the provision of cheap and clean energy".

Prof. Rao shared that the government has made a budgetary provision of Rs 1,000 crore to promote the sector. "The Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI) has funded about 100 basic science projects worth Rs 60 crore. This would also support the establishment of centers for nanoscience at several institutions such as the IISc, Bangalore, and different IITs," he said.

MN Vidyashankar, secretary to the Government of Karnataka, Department of IT, Biotechnology and Science & Technology, said that the event would create an opportunity for researchers, innovators as well as venture capitalists to showcase the latest advancements in the field of nanotechnology and to identify the investment opportunities for the future. He also stated that Bangalore Nano 2007 will focus on the integrated roles of technologies, applications and commercialisation of nanotechnology.


IBAB convocation held

The Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) held its fifth convocation in Bangalore on August 18, 2007. Prof. MGK Menon, former minister for science and technology, who participated as chief guest, awarded diploma certificates and medals to the students.

In his address, Prof. Vijay Chandru, chairman and CEO, Strand Life Sciences, who was the guest of honor, said biotechnology and computer science have a parallel and equivalent power to development.

Students also received scholarships from Accelrys Software, Sartorius and Millipore. On the occasion, MN Vidyashankar, secretary to the Government of Karnataka, Department of IT, Biotechnology and Science& Technology, announced the setting up of a Nanopark in Bangalore.

Prof. H Sharat Chandra, chairman, IBAB and Prof. N Yathindra, director, IBAB, presided over.


BioServe, Phenomenome Discoveries develop novel diagnostic test for colorectal cancer

BioServe and Phenomenome Discoveries Inc. (PDI) have announced that they have developed a novel serum-based diagnostic test for the identification of colorectal cancer (CRC), and pre-cancerous states conducive to the development of CRC. According to the National Cancer Institute, in the US during 2007 there were an estimated 1,53,760 new cases of colorectal cancer and 52,180 deaths from the disease.

The new colorectal cancer diagnostic test is currently available in Canada and Japan. Both companies anticipate that the test will be available for distribution in the US in Q4 2007. The test is also currently available for use by researchers worldwide as a fee-for-service research tool that allows research-use-only applications. Further plans for broad commercialization to physicians and patients are underway.

In developing the test, BioServe identified a large number of patient tissue and serum samples from its Global Repository exhibiting CRC across a spectrum of stages, as well as matched healthy controls. Using PDI's patented non-targeted metabolomics platform, PDI discovered that a series of novel metabolites were significantly decreased in serum samples collected from colorectal cancer patients compared to controls. From these results, PDI developed a two minute high-throughput screening method capable of simultaneously measuring a key subset of these molecules. BioServe provided a second independent population of 189 CRC samples and 287 controls, and the rapid test was found to be 78 percent sensitive and 90 percent specific in this validation sample set.

The test has now been validated in four independent studies, across which the sensitivity of detection for colorectal cancer positive cases averaged 75 percent, and the specificity averaged 90 percent. Trials are planned for late 2007 in Canada and Japan, in which healthcare authorities will evaluate the test's utility as part of a broad-based population screening regimen.

"Early detection is the single most important factor in improving patient survival. The availability of a simple, serum-based, pre-colonoscopy screening test for CRC will have a positive impact on the low compliance rate of colonoscopy as a screening tool and enable healthcare providers to make more efficient use of the colonoscopy in the management of CRC," said John Hyshka, COO of PDI. "BioServe's clinical colorectal cancer data and control samples from its vast global repository of over 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples were critical to accelerating our research in colon cancer and developing this breakthrough diagnostic test. Based on our success in CRC, we have expanded our collaboration with BioServe to identify serum biomarkers for other forms of cancer as well as multiple sclerosis."


Biocon to commercialize Abraxis' cancer drug

Abraxis BioScience, a US-based integrated, global biopharmaceutical company, has entered into a licensing agreement with Biocon Ltd. Biocon has secured commercialization rights of Abraxane (paclitaxel protein-bound particles for injectable suspension, albumin-bound) in India.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biocon will also have the right to market Abraxane in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and certain other South Asian and Persian Gulf countries. As part of this agreement, Abraxis will receive royalties from Biocon based on net sales of Abraxane in these countries.

"This agreement is an important step in the development of a global commercialization framework that incorporates unique country-by-country needs," said Bruce Wendel, executive vice president, corporate development for Abraxis BioScience. "Importantly, we are pleased that this partnership with Biocon affords us the opportunity to bring Abraxane, an important advance in chemotherapy, to these countries while broadening our existing relationship with Biocon."


Eastern Biotech launches rapid diagnostic kits for bird flu, malaria and dengue fever in India

Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences, UAE, has announced the launch of in vitro diagnostic kits for avian flu, malaria, dengue fever and many other rapid self-test kits in India.

Currently the company is operating with clients in six major countries, with information of the rapid test kits being requested from another twelve including India, India being one of the biggest markets for these kits worldwide. With the start of the mosquito season in many tropical countries, it has come to light that dengue fever is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the Middle East, Malaysia, and Southeast Asia.

"Right now, most diagnosis of dengue fever is done as an academic exercise, approached after the sudden outbreak in India two years back. Our tests will enable rapid diagnosis of dengue fever to help people identify the disease sitting at home and at their own convenience," said Faruq M Badiuddin, CMD, Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences.

Eastern Biotech offers a quick solution for this problem and many other kinds of infectious diseases in the form of rapid test kits. The range of tests available are able to swiftly aid the diagnosis of HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B&C, dengue fever, syphilis, malaria and cancers.

"In the last couple of months we have received several orders from the UK for our pregnancy test kits and are currently receiving orders from South Africa and India for various other tests on a near monthly basis" said Junaid Faruq, marketing director of Eastern Biotech.


TCG Lifesciences announces strategic partnership with US-based Constella Group

TCG Lifesciences (TCGLS), an India-based contract drug discovery and development company, has entered into a partnership with Constella Group, a leading global provider of professional health services. As part of the non-exclusive relationship, TCG Lifesciences and Constella will jointly promote their contract services and identify and promote business opportunities across the two organizations.

Constella and TCG Lifesciences will work together to explore market opportunities in India for training, quality assurance, and regulatory affairs services.

Commenting on the partnership Swapan Bhattacharya, managing director, TCG Lifesciences, said, "We are confident that the alliance with Constella Group will allow us to further leverage our management team, significant experience in conducting clinical research and data management in India and access to clinicians across the country."

"India is attractive to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies because of the rapid patient recruitment into clinical studies and the country's highly skilled workforce. This partnership allows us to expand our services into new areas of the world," said Don Holzworth, Constella's chairman and CEO.


Seminar on influenza prevention held

Influenza Foundation of India (IFI) recently held a seminar on "Influenza Prevention & Control" at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). The event was officiated by Dr Shiv Lal, additional director general of Government of India and director of NICD. Also present at the seminar were eminent speakers like Dr AK Prasad, chairman, IFI, Dr Pem Namgyal, medical officer vaccine preventable disease at WHO SEARO, Dr P Ravindran, Homayoun Madjrouh, managing director, Sanofi Pasteur India, among other distinguished doctors and experts in the field.

"Influenza has already left a scar in the face of earth and millions have suffered across the globe. Apart from the immense burden of seasonal influenza, the threat of another pandemic is looming and it is high time to ponder and find a way out through collaborative efforts for increasing vaccination coverage and preparing for pandemic," said Dr AK Prasad.

Influenza status in India including the disease profile and burden were the some of the key concerns discussed by the eminent scientists and speakers at the seminar.

Dr Pem Namgyal said, "Influenza prevention and control now has become a priority amongst all the nations in South-East Asia, which inspite of being a vaccine manufacturing hub has not even a single manufacturer for Influenza vaccine." The reason for the same, he mentioned, was lack of policy on seasonal influenza vaccine by government or scientific bodies and hence the limited usage of same in by clinicians. The current annual global capacity for influenza vaccine doses is 300 million and South East Asia's contribution to this number is negligible. Bulk of the seasonal influenza vaccines are manufactured and consumed by the developed world.

"Pharmaceutical industries shoulder a huge responsibility of aiding government efforts in minimizing the threat of influenza by providing effective prevention and control mechanisms. Vaccines provide the best protection against influenza and prevent hospitalization and death among persons at high risk. Therefore, it is important for a country like India with such vast biodiversity and gene pool that the coverage levels of influenza vaccine are improved," said Homayoun Madjrouh, MD, Sanofi Pasteur during his presentation at the seminar. Sanofi Pasteur, the largest manufacturer of influenza vaccines across the globe, has been supporting the ICMR in influenza surveillance and disease prevention through safe and efficacious vaccines for protection against influenza.


Bio-Rad organizes seminar on chromatography

Bio-Rad Laboratories India, in association with the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai organized a two-day national level seminar on "Preparative and Process Chromatography" on August 23-24 in Mumbai. The objective was to share, develop and enhance the science of chromatographic separations and generate manpower and expertise for the Indian biotech and pharma industry.

Speaking at the seminar, Prof Arvind Lali from ICT, said, "Chromatography is one of the most trusted and established techniques in new drug discovery, vaccine manufacturing and development as well as generic drugs production and research. Technical expertise available at ICT combined with the excellent product support from Bio-Rad shall make this facility one of the best in the world."

Dhiren Wagle, country manager, Bio-Rad India, said, "Our intention behind the joint initiative is to give the Indian industry a much needed platform to discuss and provide solutions in the science of chromatography".

Representatives from the country's leading pharma and biotech companies, Indian researchers and practioners participated in the in the two- day event.


Axygen's distributors meet organized

Axygen Scientific organized its distributors meet on July 20-22, 2007 at JP Palace, Agra. Distributors from all over the country participated. Axygen Scientific disclosed its new association with Hoefer and Biowest. The training sessions were also organized and technical person from abroad as well as from India participated.



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