‘Industry-academia association in bio-therapeutics research to help meet unmet demands’

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on October 15, 2021

Ranjan Pai, Chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group, speaks at the inauguration of Manipal Centre for Biotherapeutics Research

Pharma and biopharma companies have been urged to enter into strategic partnerships with high-ranking universities for biotherapeutics research to meet the unmet medical needs of the country.

Speaking at the inauguration of Manipal Centre for Biotherapeutics Research (MCBR) under Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) on Friday, Ranjan Pai, Chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), said globally biotherapeutics is the fastest growing sector in pharma industry today, and India’s biologics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22 per cent to $12 billion by 2025.

Also read: MAHE to set up biotherapeutics research centre

Stating that the market is currently dominated by simple biologics such as therapies for the treatment of diabetes, oncology, auto immune and cardio vascular diseases, he said there is a need to get deeper in the areas of innovative cell therapies for regeneration and cancer treatment, gene therapy, monoclonal antibodies, vaccine etc. to compete with the developed countries.

“Although the biologics produced in developed countries provide hope for many unmet medical needs, their high costs provide an entry barrier to developing markets,” he said, urging the pharma and biopharma companies to reduce the workload and their inhouse R&D and focus more on strategic partnerships with high-ranking institutions to manage time and money more efficiently.

He said the association between the western universities and pharma companies have scripted many success stories in the pharma world. “I hope MCBR will enter into partnership with biopharma companies to develop a successful academia-industry engagement model in this part of the world,” he said.

Anurag Bagaria, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Bengaluru-based Kemwell Biopharma, said MAHE has taken the lead in the country to start a dedicated centre for bio-therapeutics research, a science that continues to gain momentum in universities of many developed countries.

He said bio-therapeutics has become an integral part of modern medicine in the last 40 years to improve human health with focus in the areas of cell therapy, gene therapy, protein therapeutics and bio materials. “From insulin, the first medicine produced using biotechnological methods, to today’s Covid vaccine, bio-therapeutics research has come a long way. But we still have a long journey ahead of us,” he said.

Also read: AstraZeneca asks FDA to authorise Covid antibody treatment

Highlighting the importance of industry-academia collaboration for biotherapeutics research, he said the research in this segment has helped find cure for some diseases. He said the ‘CAR T’ products for leukaemia is a strong example of such a collaboration where the University of Pennsylvania collaborated with the pharma company Novartis.

He said MAHE, an institution of eminence, is paving the way in India by establishing MCBR with the aim of developing impactful biological drugs and devices with the collaboration of the biopharma industry.

Bagaria said MAHE is an ideal institute for the centre as it brings together excellence in multidisciplinary fields of health, engineering, business studies and fundamental sciences. “Bio-therapeutics research can only be successful if there is a collaborative effort amongst these disciplines,” he said.

Raviraja NS, Coordinator of MCBR, said MCBR has already signed general agreements with some of the companies for bio-therapeutics research. On the benefits for industries, he said collaborators can use GMP (good manufacturing practices) infrastructure and start MAHE-industry partnership research units. GMP space is available for process optimisation, development of new processes and products.

Also read: 36% of USFDA’s market authorisations in 2020 went to Indian drug-makers

MCBR can provide expert consultation on developing autologous and allogenic products, product manufacturing for early-phase clinical trials and commercial requirements. MAHE can provide skilled human resources in various fields.

“We are inviting pharma companies to set up their units in MAHE taking all the expertise from the university to develop the product,” he added. Vasanti R Pai, Trustee of MAHE Trust, HS Ballal, Pro Chancellor of MAHE, and Lt Gen MD Venkatesh, Vice-Chancellor of MAHE, were present on the occasion.

Published on October 15, 2021

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