Bharat Biotech International, the company that in collaboration with select government organisations developed Covaxin, one of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the country, has now roped in two other companies Biovet, and Sapigen Biologix and deepened its engagement with the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, which is a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
To formalize this a joint Master Collaborative Agreement (MCA) was signed on Monday (March 29) by all the entities with those from Biovet and Sapigen led by directors related to the Bharat Biotech promoter family.
At a press conference thereafter, it said that the aim of the agreement was “to collaborate on the development of novel platform technologies for BioTherapeutics and vaccines to support the indigenous, affordable health care solutions for humans and animals.” It apparently seems a very broad agreement and not quite confined to one area or to any single platform technology and could work on agonist molecules that are used to make the adjuvant used to make a vaccine, as was done by IICT earlier for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
There may be other chemical requirements or lipids/ lipid nano particles that find use (both for stability and effectiveness) in the vaccine formulation and development and the strengths of the IICT laboratories and its experience with lipid nano particles could be leveraged for this.
Giving an example of the mRNA platform that vaccines abroad like the Pfizer and Moderna have deployed, Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General, CSIR, said it was an important platform and we thought we all should also be contributing to it and bring this platform to India and be able to leverage the technologies and the platforms to try and add ress the needs across disease categories, including COVID so that future pandemics can be dealt with.
A note shared by Bharat Biotech says, as a part of this agreement, “the Industry collaborators shall provide necessary financial support to CSIR-IICT for developing key raw materials required by the collaborators, and also perform in-vitro and in vivo studies for further development of potential vaccine candidates and bio-therapeutics formulations to be designed by the collaborators.
The broad-based MCA (as the agreement is being referred to) enables the partners to take up futuristic development activities in other related areas as well.”
The CSIR-IICT had developed a synthetic process route for adjuvant molecule TLR 7/8 to Bharat Biotech for Covaxin. “The partners intend to strengthen the excellent working relationship between the two organizations, by conducting studies on futuristic vaccines, bio-therapeutic formulations, delivery strategies, and also explore innovative solutions to the vaccination administration process,” the note said.
The MCA was signed by Dr. Krishna Mohan, Executive Director, Bharat Biotech, Dr. Jalachari Ella, Director, Biovet and Dr. Raches Ella, Director, Sapigen Biologix and Dr. S Chandrasekhar for CSIR-IICT, in presence of Dr Shekhar C Mande, DG CSIR and Dr. Krishna M. Ella, CMD, Bharat Biotech. Bharat Biotech founder Dr Krishna Ella said this is a big forward-thinking step, to explore future innovative solutions by design, and developing novel vaccine platforms in association with publicly-funded Institutions like CSIR-IICT, by pushing the boundaries of the advanced technologies.
We look forward to fortifying this collaboration and strengthening the innovation ecosystem of human and animal Life Sciences. Biovet is involved in animal vaccines, with a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine production facility, located in Malur, Karnataka. And, Sapigen Biologix is engaged in research, design, development of technical know-how “in all kinds of work in the fields of biology, biotechnology, biochemistry and varieties of drugs pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostic kits, vaccines, anti-bodies and other industrial bio-products such as enzymes and gums and have the necessary capability to manufacture at GMP level and market such product globally.”