• 4 April 2008
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Avesthagen starts Phase III trials of 3 bioactives

Bangalore-based Avesthagen Ltd has announced the start of Phase III human clinical trials for its recently launched Avestaä brand of botanical bioactives. Avesthagen and Manipal AcuNova Ltd, Bangalore, have a strategic agreement for conducting the Phase III human clinical studies for diabetes management for Avesthagen's branded bioactives Teestar, Aspand and Cincata.

These products have been developed by the bionutrition division of Avesthagen from different medicinal plants selected from its proprietary database, ADePt, and validated using MetaGrid, its patented comprehensive constituent profiling technology.

During pre-clinical studies all three bioactives recorded a significant decrease in blood sugar levels in diabetic animal models and also recorded a significant reduction in the level of glycated hemoglobin HbA1c in comparison to the controls.

Announcing the trials, Dr Villoo Morawala Patell, founder and CMD, Avesthagen said, "Avesthagen has had an exciting start to the year and that excitement continues. The initiation of this Phase III human trial represents an important strategic milestone for Avesthagen because it demonstrates the continued advancement of our product portfolio of novel therapeutics for wide spread diseases. We are pursuing aggressively the Phase III clinical development of these bioactives to establish the parameters of the clinical trial design that can lead to regulatory approval."


Cellworks and Lifeline Hospitals to collaborate on oncology

Cellworks Research India Ltd, the R&D wing of California-based company Cellworks Group Inc., and Lifeline Multi Speciality Hospitals have announced one-year research collaboration in the area of oncology with emphasis on study of the role of tumor stem cells in cancer pathology and progression. This collaborative research will elucidate novel biochemical markers to identify disease progression and patient sub-types enabling solutions for personalized medicine. This research project will be based on Cellworks' proprietary iC-PHYS Tumor Cell platform which is Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) aware technology.

This collaborative research will exploit the unique prowess of Cellworks technology iC-PHYS, a proprietary in silico platform, which provides a disease physiology aligned dynamic representation at the bio-molecular abstraction level. The technology platform, iC-PHYS Tumor Cell, is MDR aware and enables virtual prototyping to incorporate drug-resistance factors in the drug discovery process. This prototyping minimizes efficacy issues due to drug resistance that may show up at clinical trials stages.

According to Dr J S Rajkumar, founder and chairman, Lifeline Hospitals, "We are partnering with Cellworks Group Inc. to have a better understanding on the details of the cellular bio-chemical pathways and proteins involved in the differentiation process. Cellworks team with its in-depth expertise in cellular modeling and rich library of in silico based proprietary platforms has been identified to be the optimal partner in this exciting and emergent area."

"I am very excited with the potential of this partnership," said Taher Abbasi, CEO, Cellworks. "Molecular bio-markers identification is fundamental for understanding cancer progression and for adaptive treatment solutions for maximum efficacy and minimized drug resistance. Transparency into all cancer phenotypes and intermediate nodes simultaneously through the iC-PHYS platform and correlation with the clinical data points will expand opportunities for personalized medicine in cancer treatment."


BioServe expands global customer base

US-based BioServe has announced that it has signed 211 agreements since mid-2007 with leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical customers including Novartis, Sanofi–Aventis, Broad Institute, Genentech, National Cancer Institute, Baylor University and Health Canada. In addition, BioServe hit an annualized growth rate of over 300 percent from fiscal year 2006.

Since acquiring Genomics Collaborative in May 2007, BioServe has acquired 76 new customers, providing them with access to its 600,000-sample Global Repository of well-phenotyped human DNA, serum and tissue, as well as its gene expression and biomarker validation services.

"Our performance leaves little doubt that pharmaceutical and diagnostic development has embraced the power of clinical bio-specimens for more efficient identification of new drug and diagnostic targets," said Dr Kevin Krenitsky, CEO of BioServe. "To help our customers fully realize the benefits of genomics in their research and discovery efforts, BioServe offers access to the broadest spectrum of human samples--tissue, serum and DNA from globally-relevant populations--and the expertise to process those samples to identify and validate new markers."

BioServe's services platform extends from molecular research products and services, such as DNA and RNA extraction and purification reagents, DNA sequencing, oligonucleotide synthesis and genotyping to readymade large epidemiologically sound case-control studies of diabetes, obesity and cancers including breast, prostate, lung and colorectal.

Krenitsky added, "In 2008, we are off to a strong start that will be marked by the introduction of several novel bio-sample and processing products to increase the utility and application of human bio-samples for a larger portion of the research and development community. We will continue to expand our Global Repository, and we anticipate the worldwide commercialization of BioServe's first molecular diagnostic test for colorectal cancer developed with Phenonenome Discoveries Inc."


Danisco to focus on Indian, South Asian markets with new manufacturing facilities

Danisco India has announced the opening of two new manufacturing units of functional systems and enzymes, with an investment of Rs 32 crore to serve Indian and South Asian markets. This investment consists of manufacturing plants, labs and offices. The labs will be used to test the products in the local conditions and support Danisco's customers in India and surrounding countries. The new facilities have been opened in Sohna, Haryana. The Enzyme plant will make enzyme blends to satisfy the needs of the Indian market for grain processing, textiles, laundry detergents, fuel ethanol, animal feed and food and beverages.

Danisco India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Danisco A/s, the Denmark headquartered $3.8 billion (Rs 14,820 crore) international producer and supplier of food ingredients and industrial bio-products.

Neil Prasad, managing director, South Asia and the Gulf States said, "The timing for our two plants is ideal. The changes in government legislation in processed food have spurred our functional system investment, while the obvious importance of biotechnology in South Asia has resulted in our enzyme investment. We have also used the most up to date blending technology in our plants with versatile capacity," he added.

"The SAARC region has been showing sustainable double digit growth in Danisco, and the new functional system plant will give us an edge to become one of the first international functional system plants in the region. This latest investment will strengthen our presence and commitment as a serious player in the region," said Anders Wilhjelm, executive vice president, gums & systems, Danisco A/s.

Danisco wants to seize this opportunity by opening an enzyme manufacturing plant, operated by its Genencor Enzyme Division. The plant will primarily produce enzyme blends to service the markets of animal nutrition, fuel ethanol, grain processing and textiles.


British Biologicals opens global headquarters in Bangalore

British Biologicals, a leading nutraceutical company, set up its global headquarters in Bangalore, as part of its initiative to synergize its current and future global operations. The $4 million headquarters will be a single point of contact for enhanced operational efficiency.

British Biologicals' managing director, VS Reddy, said that this was in line with the company's new global strategy to have substantial organic and inorganic growth. The strategy is to go for acquisitions, tie-ups, brand buying, etc. in the overseas market. Its recent marketing tie-up was with Finland's Raisio Group. British Biologicals will continue to be the flagship company and all other associates will draw resources from the pool, thus optimizing operations.

According to V Sridhar, executive director, the company is expecting substantial jump in its revenues with increased overseas activity and a tie-up in Russia will soon go live.


TMRC to fund $23 million for research in Scotland

The Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC)-the unique venture bringing together one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies with Scotland's medical research centers announced the second round of research projects to be funded through the initiative.

Almost $20 million of funding has been released to support 39 new research projects covering a wide range of therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the central nervous system, women's health, inflammation and oncology. Four of these projects were initiated in late 2007 and the remainder will start imminently across the four academic partner sites in Scotland.

These new investments build on almost $18 million of project funding released in December 2006 to support 28 research programs. Wyeth has already committed in excess of its minimum project funding of $45 million ahead of schedule.

The collaboration comprises four of Scotland's leading universities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow), Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., Scottish Enterprise and NHS Scotland Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian and Tayside, and provides new impetus for Scotland to lead the world in the development of personalized medicine, bringing new treatments to patients suffering from a range of serious illnesses.

Prof. Andrew Morris, chair of the TMRC Steering Group, said, "The spirit of collaboration between the partners continues to build, and we are all firmly focused on delivering valuable patient benefits and shared commercial success for all partners."

Frank Walsh, executive VP of Wyeth Discovery Research, said, "We remain very impressed by the quality of the science and innovation being generated as part of this collaboration. The latest round of projects is likely to generate meaningful scientific data which will have a real impact on the quality of new therapies being developed as well as the speed with which we can deliver these to patients."


Novo Nordisk Launches the IMPROVE Control Mobile Clinic in New Delhi

In keeping with its sustained commitment to improving diabetes care in India, global healthcare major Novo Nordisk unveiled its second mobile clinic - the IMPROVE Control Mobile Clinic in New Delhi.

The launch of the Control Mobile Clinic in India, is part of the global control initiative by Novo Nordisk, and is directed at improving diabetes care for people from different walks of life in India. The mobile clinic is a van designed to deliver high standards in diabetes detection and education facilitation. Equipped with blood glucose monitoring systems for diabetes screening and detection, weight check and body mass index platforms and patient education audio-visuals, the mobile clinic will encourage doctors along its route to leverage facilities within the bus to monitor and ensure better glycaemic control for people in their respective regions.

Mr. Jesper Hoiland, senior Vice-President, Novo Nordisk speaking at the launch of this initiative said; "We are delighted to launch yet another IMPROVE Control Mobile Clinic and that too in the capital of India. As a disorder that is plaguing the world and more so India, diabetes is as much a concern for healthcare authorities in most countries, including India, as it is for a company like Novo Nordisk that has been passionate about diabetes care for over eighty years."

The mobile clinic introduced in New Delhi would initially cover a radius of 150 km in a three month planned programme. The effort would be further scaled up in the next phase beginning June 2008 to extend the reach.


XIME in collaboration with Biocon organizes workshop on "Management of R&D Institutions"

"Innovation is the need for the day and Research & Development is the prime source for it," said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon as she inaugurated the workshop on "Management of R&D Institutions" organized by XIME in collaboration with Biocon, CII Institute of Quality, NRDC, DSIR and BITES on March 14. She further emphasized how some countries have excelled over others because of their ability to manage their scientific knowledge. Management, according to her, is integral to R&D for which an "across the board" approach is needed and India needs to build a strong pool of managers who can work seamlessly, to help India make its presence felt in the knowledge economy of the world.

Prof. J Phillip, president, XIME, also stressed on the importance of innovation as he formally welcomed the gathering. Former Director General, CII, N Srinivas, then reiterated their ideas as he spoke about the emergence of India as a global hub. R Natarajan, former chairman, AICTE, and former director, IIT, Madras, said that creativity and innovation are the basic building blocks for R&D. He further added saying that "it is a joint initiative which aims to respond to the emerging needs. It takes the form of an R&D workshop, bringing together a group of leaders and resource persons from the knowledge industry." All speakers unanimously agreed on the fact that India would emerge as one of the leading players in the R&D field. However, it needs to traverse a road of changes before it reaches its destination.

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