After $1 diarrhoea vaccine, Govt wants same for malaria, TB

Partnership with industry helps pool research abilities, expertise

Buoyed by the success of the public Private partnership experiment in developing the first indigenous rotavirus vaccine to combat a deadly form of viral diarrhoea, the Department of Biotechnology will now shift its focus to researching vaccines for dengue, tuberculosis and malaria.

Maintaining that affordability is the Government’s main mantra, the Department is ready to co-operate with the pharmaceutical industry to make vaccines that prevent killer diseases.

Dr T.S. Rao, who heads the vaccines and diagnostics section of the Department, toldBusiness Line that an inter-ministerial group has been formed to help the Rotavac, the one-dollar rotavirus vaccine, to get the necessary policy clearances.

Officials from the Health Ministry and the Indian Council for Medical Research will be part of the group, besides scientists from his Department.

Rao said that the dengue vaccine is ready to head to pre-clinical studies. “Tests in the animal model (are being conducted) now. We reviewed the process last month and are collecting data. We are at a very advanced stage,” he said.

He, however, said that a time frame cannot be fixed to make a product. “It took 20 years for us to make Rotavac.”

The Department will add more one or more industry partners for the vaccine at an appropriate time, Rao said.

It has already tied up with Hyderabad-based Cadila Pharmaceuticals to develop a vaccine for malaria.

“We reviewed the research work last month and are getting encouraging results.” Research and development of a tuberculosis vaccine is at an advanced stage.

Rao approves of the Government working with industry, saying the public-private partnership model was “very successful, particularly in research and development” as they could pool together both research capabilities and expertise. Roger Glass, Associate Director for Global Health Research, National Institute of Health in the US, said what India has achieved is a fabulous step.

“This vaccine was derived from an Indian strain, identified by an Indian scientist, developed by an Indian Company, studied in Indian populations, with support from the Indian Government.

“That’s entirely new. When this vaccine came in the US it cost $200 for each child,” Glass, who provided training for the Indian team of scientists at various stages of the research, told Business Line. “I am bowled over. I didn’t know this will work or not. When they called us and gave the result, I was like an expectant father,” he added.
Source - the hindu business line


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