In the last century, average life expectancy has grown by 20 years or more, in large part due to the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines. However, these advances in human health are threatened by the emergence of drug resistance globally. In the United States, 70% of the bacteria causing infections in the hospital are resistant to at least one class of antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, multidrug resistant bacteria are responsible for 2 million illnesses, resulting in 23,000 deaths and $ 26 billion in healthcare costs in the United States. In India the emergence of extremely resistant infections by “superbugs” has been reported widely, both in the hospital and the community setting. In fact, the World Health Organization has identified antimicrobial resistance as one of three greatest threats to human health.
To address this issue Vitas Pharma, a company incubated inside the University of Hyderabad’s (UoH) Technology Business Incubator (TBI), has initiated pioneering research. The company identifies novel molecules that target critical pathways in bacteria, using both Structure Guided Drug Design and classical medicinal chemistry approaches. The compounds are taken through iterative cycles of chemical modification and biological testing, in order to select compounds that are efficacious and safe. The company has filed multiple patents and has received Grants from national and International agencies. Their portfolio consists of one lead optimized and two lead stage programs. The company intends to file an IND (Investigational New Drug Application- a Regulatory requirement to initiate clinical development) in 2015. In recognition of their innovative work, the company raised a seed round of funding from the Indian Angel Network recently.
Vitas Pharma was founded by Dr. Radha Rangarajan and Dr. Rajinder Kumar. Dr. Rangarajan was trained at Stanford and Rockefeller Universities and the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Rajinder Kumar was formerly Vice-President for Neurosciences at Glaxo SmithKline and President of R & D and Commercial for Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Vitas Pharma has several eminent scientists on its Scientific Advisory Board including Prof. Reddanna, Dean-in-charge, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Prof. D. Balasubramanian, Director of Research, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Prof. Sharon Peacock, Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK and Dr. Lakshmi Gorthi, Head, Department of Microbiology, NIMS, Hyderabad.
The TBI was set up in 2010 by the UoH and the Department of Science and Technology, to support R&D led companies and enable the translation of basic science research. This facility has been inaugurated by Dr. C. Rangarajan, Former Governor, RBI, Former Governor of united AP State and Former Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, GoI.