Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), an interface agency of the Department of Biotechnology, has recently introduced a program to enable early stage companies, academics and entrepreneurs to take their innovations from an idea to a proof-of-concept stage in the healthcare / Biotechnology sector. Two of the recipients of the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) are Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research and Dr. Radha Rangarajan of Vitas Pharma. Both innovators are based at the Technology Business Incubator on University of Hyderabad campus. They are also incubatees at Life Science Incubator in IKP Knowledge Park, which provides mentorship, networking, branding, funding support, and laboratory infrastructure to start ups. IKP is the BIG Partner for both new projects.
Dr. Ashwini Nangia of Crystalin Research will test novel drug molecules designed on the GPCR receptor (G-protein coupled receptor) for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The novelty of their approach lies in its simplicity. By modifying the functional group on an anti-psychotic drug it is expected that the change in binding to the receptor will lead to release of insulin. The project will span the synthesis of drug molecules, their cell culture assays, and pre-clinical animal trials to test the glucose level lowering efficacy of our “first in class drug”, says Dr. Nangia. He is a Professor of Chemistry at University of Hyderabad.
Dr. Radha Rangarajan is focused on identifying and developing novel therapies for multidrug resistant (MDR) infections at Vitas Pharma. MDR infections are a major public health concern in India and elsewhere, as they are associated with high levels of morbidity, mortality and treatment costs. The BIG Grant is intended for research on a novel class of compounds that target DNA replication in bacteria and prevent their growth through a unique mechanism, thus overcoming drug resistance. The team will identify lead compounds with in vitro activity against highly resistant clinical strains and establish proof-of-concept in animal models. A successful drug emerging from this research would add to the armament of medicines for the effective management of infectious diseases.
Dr. Rangarajan has extensive research and development experience (Rockefeller University, Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories). She is on the Guest Faculty at NIPER, Hyderabad.