Vitas Pharma, a company focused on developing drugs and diagnostics to detect and treat multidrug resistant infections, has received a Discovery Award, to develop its diagnostic product for the rapid detection of bacterial infections. The Awards ceremony, held at the Royal Society, London on November 21st, was presided over by Sir Martin Rees, Chair of the Longitude Prize committee and Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, England. Discovery Awards have been given to 12 teams from the US, UK and India selected from more than 70 applications received from 19 countries.

Vitas Pharma is incubated in the Technology Business Incubator, University of Hyderabad (UoH) and IKP Knowledge Park. The company has prototyped a molecular test that detects the presence of bacteria with high specificity and sensitivity. This low cost, 45 minute assay is easy to perform and amplifies bacterial sequences without the need for expensive equipment. It is envisioned that the kit will ultimately consist of 3 tests per sample and will flag the presence of bacteria in 30 minutes. Unlike other currently available tests, this assay combines speed and accuracy with low cost. “TBI@UoH is sponsored by DST, Govt of India and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship activities. Presently there are 12 companies working with TBI in many cutting edge research areas”


The Discovery Awards are, Seed Grants for teams to develop their ideas for a diagnostic for bacterial infections and apply for the Longitude prize. The Longitude prize is a £ 10 million prize instituted by the British Government to reward a team or individual that develops a test that is cost-effective, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use and allows health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time.

Dr Radha Rangarajan, CEO of the company said, “Infections caused by multidrug resistant bacteria are a major public health problem globally. To curb the spread of resistance, tests that enable the appropriate use of antibiotics, are a critical need. Our test will be simple, affordable and rapid, thus allowing physicians to make data-driven decisions on prescribing antibiotics”.

Dr. Radha received academic training at Stanford and Rockefeller Universities and the Harvard School of Public Health. Her team includes Dr Surobhi Lahiri and Rasika Venkataraman, both molecular biologists and microbiologists with extensive experience in characterizing drug resistance.

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Dr. Radha Rangarajan can be reached on email: