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Thursday, Jul 18, 2002

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3 IISc proteins for Cadila, Shantha Biotech

Madhumathi D.S.


THREE recombinant therapeutic proteins are in the making at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and are shortly to be transferred to two domestic pharma majors for further trials.

Two of them, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), will be used to treat infertility in men and women. These are being acquired by Cadila Pharmaceuticals, which has part sponsored this research project at the institute's Molecular Reproduction, Development & Genetics Department. The hCG is used in in vitro fertilisation cases.

The third protein, the human growth hormone, which can form a therapy for dwarfism and anti-ageing, is to be transferred to Shantha Biotechnics of Hyderabad.

Purification and characterisation of the proteins is going on, according to Dr R.R.Dighe, Associate Professsor at the department, who has been researching in therapeutic proteins.

Dr Dighe says drugs based on the recombinant hormones would be far more affordable than the ones that are being imported. For growth deficiency, for example, the current imported therapies which have to be taken over 4-5 years could cost a prohibitive Rs 3 lakh a year.

However, the three recombinant proteins would have to go through "another big exercise" before they became products. These would have to be scaled up, after which the industry would have to conduct toxicological studies and clinical trials. "There is still a lot of work to go before doctors can prescribe them," he told Business Line.

The gonadotropins using yeast instead of animals like sheep are an offshoot of Dr Dighe's larger and ongoing research in molecular endocrinology.

The Ahmedabad based Cadila has also set up a Rs 2-crore R&D centre on the campus for independent research its first in outside and is also supporting a handful of projects at the institute.

Called Dhanvantari Kshetra, it is the first pharma lab on the campus and also Cadila's only R&D unit outside Ahmedabad.

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