Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech, Biovet and Sapigen Biologix on Monday signed a collaborative research agreement with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) here to collaborate on the development of novel platform technologies for biotherapeutics and vaccines to support affordable healthcare solutions for humans and animals. The Master Collaborative Agreement (MCA) was signed here by Bharat Biotech International, Biovet, Sapigen Biologix with the IICT in the presence of Bharat Biotech CMD Krishna Ella, CSIR DG Shekhar C Mande, IICT Director S Chandrasekhar and others. The collaborators would identify mutually interesting projects to pursue under the agreement, a CSIR-IICT release said.
As a part of the MCA, the Industry collaborators shall provide necessary financial support to CSIR-IICT for developing key raw materials required by the collaborators, and also perform "in-vitro and in vivo studies" for further development of potential vaccine candidates and bio-therapeutics formulations to be designed by the collaborators.
The broad-based MCA enables the partners to take up futuristic development activities in other related areas as well, it said.
The MCA follows the contribution by CSIR-IICT during February 2021, in developing a synthetic process route for adjuvant molecule TLR 7/8 to BBIL for Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine rolled out by BBIL.
The partners intend to strengthen the "excellent working relationship" between the organisations, by conducting studies on futuristic vaccines, bio-therapeutic formulations, delivery strategies and also explore innovative solutions to the vaccination administration process.
Biovet is a leader in animal vaccines, while Sapigen Biologix is engaged in research, design, development of technical know-how in all kinds of work in the fields of Biology, Bio-technology and others, according to the release. Addressing the gathering, Krishna Ella talked about the dependence on imports for some of the raw materials and the need to address the issue.
"When you want to leapfrog the vaccine field, we need other ancillary industries to come up, other technologies to come up along with it. Otherwise, I don't think, biotechnology field, we will go (far ahead). We will be importing a lot of stuff from other places..," he said.
Noting that some raw materials could not be obtained from the US due to certain restrictions imposed by that country, he said such problems needed to be anticipated in the future.
"That is one of the reasons why we said, let's partner (with CSIR)...," he said.
Asked about how the issue of shortage of raw materials would be addressed, Mande referred to the goal of ''Atma Nirbhar Bharat''and that the government is very keen on generating as many resources as possible within the country.
"Shortage of chemicals that probably is being asked is only one aspect of that. What we would like to take is a much larger view and try to see that as much as possible, we would like to be self-dependent," he said.
However, the statement of self-dependent on raw materials does not mean remaining inward-looking (that nothing will be imported) and the government is keen on having the capability, capacity and confidence that everything can be done in the country, Mande said.
About how the agreement would work, he said true collaborations involve exchange of ideas between different parties and working together and not working in isolation.
He said CSIR and Bharat Biotech are looking at bringing mRNA based vaccine platform in the country.
"For example, today there is a need felt that India must have a vaccine platform which is let us say mRNA based. Today, we don''t have an mRNA based vaccine platform in the country." "Dr Ella and us are already talking about it that how do we actually bring it and Dr Ella is very confident that in the coming few months we will be able to actually bring it, this particular platform," Mande said.
He said mRNA has emerged as one of the most powerful technologies in the COVID pandemic.
Asked if the mRNA effort would be COVID specific, he said the CSIR, in its collaborations with companies, would like to cover different areas and many diseases together.
"When we do collaborations with companies, we always do long term, many different areas, many different diseases together. COVID also is a part of that. But, what we want to do is generate a platform here so that any other diseases or future pandemics can also be dealt with this kind of a platform," Mande added.
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