ReaGene Innovations incubated at ASPIRE-BioNEST of University of Hyderabad (UoH) along with INDRAS Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad  is collaborating with Tech Mahindra, the IT giant, to identify FDA approved drugs which can be redeployed as therapeutics for COVID-19. The collaboration will use both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and rational computational approaches for identifying approved existing drugs validated using biological and pharmacological methods.

The objective of their collaboration is to stop the entry of virus into lung airway epithelial cells.  The choice of this strategy is important because the high transmission rate of COVID-19 is attributed in part to tight attachment of the virus that facilitates its  entry into lung cells. Once the virus is stopped from entering the cells, it is rendered harmless.

Reagene Innovations Pvt. Ltd., a biotech startup cofounded by Dr. Uday Saxena and Dr. Subramanyam Vangala and incubated at the ASPIRE-BioNEST, will create a human vascular lung model to study COVID-19 using 3D bioprinting technique. This new technique is being used to create human organs and tissues.

Dr. Ratnakar Palakodeti, Vice President of Life Sciences vertical of Tech Mahindra said “this collaboration will bring valuable findings in therapeutic interventions through a faster route than conventional drug discovery as well as add invaluable intellectual property”.

The technology frontrunner, Tech Mahindra will use the decades of scientific expertise of Dr. Uday Saxena, an internationally experienced pharmaceutical executive.  In addition, the collaboration will use the rational in silico scientific expertise of INDRAS in identifying most suitable drugs which could be repurposed against COVID-19.  This project also includes contributions from internal teams of Tech Mahindra on the artificial intelligence in protein-ligand interactions towards the global goal of identifying repurposed drugs for COVID-19 mitigation.

This project also includes “artificial intelligence in protein-ligand interactions towards the global goal of identifying repurposed drugs for COVID-19 mitigation” says Nikhil Malhotra, Global Head of Innovations of Tech Mahindra.

“ASPIRE BioNEST incubation center, established in about 20,000 sft jointly by University of Hyderabad and BIRAC of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, is hosting around 20 + startups and some of them are engaged in developing diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutic molecules for COVID-19” said Prof. Reddanna, project coordinator of ASPIRE BioNEST incubation center.