India today called for Extended Collaboration in Biotech StartUps and Vaccine Development with Public Private Partnership for Global Good.
Dr. Mark Feinberg, President & CEO, IAVI (The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) Mr. Rajat Goyal MD, Country Director, India, IAVI today called on Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in New Delhi and urged for concrete proposals and guidance in developing Sustainable StartUps for lasting source of livelihoods.
Dr Jitendra Singh apprised the delegation that in June last year, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Biotech Startup Expo – 2022 at Pragati Maidan, Delhi and said, “India’s bio-economy has grown 8 times in the last 8 years. “We have grown from $10 billion to $80 billion. India is not too far from reaching the league of top-10 countries in Biotech’s global ecosystem”.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that India is fast emerging as the world’s major bio-economy and over the last few years, it has grown by leaps and bounds when it comes to innovation and technology. He pointed out that India has developed four indigenous Vaccines in just two years.
The Minister added that the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in Ministry of Science & Technology has through “Mission COVID Suraksha”, delivered four vaccines, augmented the manufacturing of Covaxin, and created necessary infrastructure for smooth development of future vaccines, so that our country is pandemic ready.
Dr. Mark Feinberg, President & CEO, IAVI said that his organization is a global not-for-profit, public-private partnership working to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. He, however added that due to abatement of HIV, IAVI is partnering with India for the development of TB Vaccine.
Dr Jitendra Singh underlined that the Indian vaccine market, which has carved out a place for itself at the global level, is expected to reach a valuation of Rs 252 billion by 2025.
The Minister pointed out that recently, DBT signed a tripartite MoU with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and IAVI on February, 24, 2022 for a period of five years. Under the MoU the parties have agreed to participate and collaborate to prevent, diagnose and/or treat diseases of concern in India and globally, including HIV, tuberculosis, emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and other global health threats, across Product development including translational research, preclinical and clinical development, community engagement and socio-behavioral research, low-cost manufacturing, public health access, etc.
The key initiatives and research projects established through the DBT-IAVI partnership are as follows–India–South Africa Bilateral Collaboration initiated in 2011 has led to the following key outcomes: Phase I collaboration (2011-2016) brought together isolated Centres of Research Excellence (7 each) across India and South Africa, Trained 1 Indian researcher in South Africa and 3 South African researchers in India in next-generation technologies. Technology transfer in key technical approaches – Yeast surface display and surface plasmon resonance. Knowledge, data and resource sharing for comparative research- Exchange of biological specimens, sharing of research materials, reagents and protocols and Interdisciplinary approach focusing on region-specific needs and contributing to global knowledge
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that during the Phase II collaboration (2017-till date), 8 CoEs across India and South Africa including 5 new CoEs in Phase II, 3 South African researchers trained in India; Indian researchers trained by South African researchers on Tandem Mass Spectrometry – 1st TDM lab for TB drugs established in India at P.D. Hinduja Hospital, Technology transfer to S Africa on Env purification & MIC testing, sharing of protocols from SA to India for assessment of Skin pigmentation, Exchange of virus sequences & bnAbs across Indian & S African labs – Most clinically advanced bnAb (CAP256.VRC26.25 mAb) shared by SA to India, 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 1 patent granted in South Africa for novel engineered immunogen from Indian HIV-1 C (THSTI & YRGCARE), The neutralization assays representing circulating HIV-1 viruses in India and South Africa, developed under this collaboration, are being used for suitability assessment of bnAbs to develop bnAb cocktail for HIV prevention, The efforts have also enabled the lab at THSTI to be a global CoE, integrated with IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, for development of bnAbs. It is also integrated into the commercial manufacturing program of HIV-bnAbs through the IAVI-NIH-USAID-SIIPL partnership. During COVID-19 pandemic, capacities built through the program were leveraged for COVID-19 research – neutralizing mAbs for COVID-19 discovered at THSTI in India and tech transferred to industry for development
It may be recalled that Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for the last 17 years has an active collaboration with International AIDs Vaccine Initiative Inc. (IAVI), a global non-profit scientific organization towards strengthening of HIV vaccine and antibody research and product development ecosystem for affordable and accessible products.
A joint MoU was signed between DBT, New Delhi and IAVI on 7th July, 2005 for participating jointly in research and development in evaluation of one or more safe and effective AIDS vaccines that was subsequently extended till July 2020.