The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has invited research proposals from potential entrepreneurs from academia, start-ups or an incubatee (researchers, PhDs, medical degree holders, biomedical engineering graduates) who have an exciting idea which may be in the nascent and planning stage and there is an unmet need for mentorship and initial funding.
Being implemented under the department of biotechnology (DBT)’s Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) scheme, the main objective of the scheme is to establish and validate proof-of-concept and also to enable creation of spin-offs. The scheme is aimed for high level of innovation in the biotechnology sector and will support only up-to proof-of-concept stage. The scheme would help to support and nurture these high risk early starters and their concepts.
Under this scheme, funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid limited up-to Rs.50 lakh and funding may also be used for conducting limited market research, patenting costs, working capital during the period, travel, salary etc. The period for the study would not exceed 18 months.
Biotechnology start-ups which are registered company incorporated on/after July 1, 2011 with a functional R&D laboratory can apply under this scheme. If the registered company does not have a functional laboratory of its own, then it should be incubated in an Incubator which has a functional laboratory.
This is the fifth call for proposals from BIRAC since the BIG scheme was launched in 2012 for igniting new ideas in biotechnology. Entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs from academia, research institute, or researchers, Ph.Ds; and medical degree holders and biomedical engineering graduates can apply under this scheme. The biotechnology start-ups incubated in a technology business, incubator with an exciting idea which may be in the nascent and planning stage can also apply under this scheme. The last date for submission of proposals is August 16, 2014.
Both India and the US will soon begin bilateral collaborative research partnerships (CRPs) on diabetes research to advance science and technology important to understanding, preventing, and treating diabetes and its complications through the collaborative efforts of Indian and US investigators and their institutions.
The collaboration of India and the US on diabetes is significant as in both the nations, diabetes is striking increasingly in younger age groups, with potentially devastating implications for the health, well-being, and productivity of future generations. To reduce both the human toll and the societal burden of diabetes in both countries, affordable, practical, and effective approaches and technologies for preventing and managing diabetes and its complications are urgently needed.
Specific areas of interest for this programme include studies that may address or be focused within one or more of the broad research areas such as prevention and management of diabetes or its complications; pathogenesis and pathophysiology of diabetes and its complications; diabetes in youth; innovative technologies for management and prevention of diabetes and/or its complications; and gestational diabetes.
The CRP must be based on interactive relationships that maximise the expertise of the individual Indian and US research teams and interactions between their parent institutions and granting agencies. It is expected that the unique opportunity available through the India-US collaborative research programme will foster collaborative partnerships that may subsequently mature and expand beyond the scope of the work proposed in current application. It is anticipated that some of these partnerships will also be relevant to translation into public health activities in India and/or the United States.
Indian and US collaborating investigators should work together to develop and submit corresponding applications to ICMR and NIH. Indian investigators will respond to this announcement from ICMR and US investigators will respond in parallel to a separate funding announcement from the NIH.
Indian and US investigators seeking support for a collaborative research partnership under this programme are instructed to submit their proposals to the respective agencies not later than 18th September 2014.
India and Canada will soon begin collaborative research innovation projects in the area of ‘Water for health’ focused on the development and evaluation of new technologies in various areas including monitoring and management of water borne or water related diseases using mobile or networked health technologies.
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and IC-IMPACTS Centres of Excellence, Canada, are the implementing organisations from the Indian and Canadian sides respectively. IC-IMPACTS Centres of Excellence is a not-for-profit organisation established by the Federal Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence Programme to serve as a pan-Canadian agency responsible for the delivery of research programs in the areas of safe and sustainable infrastructure, integrated water management, and public health: disease prevention and treatment between Canada and India.
The programme will support collaborative research projects focused on the development and evaluation of new technologies in the areas of monitoring and management of water borne or water related diseases using mobile or networked health technologies; waste water treatment and impacts on water quality; water purification bio-technologies; heavy metals identification using bio-sensors; and sustainable waste-water infrastructure and management using bio-technologies.
Potential projects will be funded by IC-IMPACTS in Canada, and by DBT in India. The joint projects must meet the requirements of the funding organizations. In India, the general funding terms of DBT will be applied. In Canada, the general funding terms of IC-IMPACTS and the tri-agency granting councils of Canada will be applied.
The DBT IC-IMPACTS partnership has been designed to strengthen existing, and stimulate new, innovation collaborations between researchers working in India and Canada and to stimulate entrepreneurial deployment of research outcomes into community contexts. Through this collaboration, IC-IMPACTS and DBT will support the innovation communities of Canada and India by each committing $1.5 million (Canadian dollars/equivalent Indian Rupees) to the joint funding of collaborative research projects submitted through this joint call for proposals.
The partnership between DBT and IC-IMPACTS aims to achieve the objectives such as to foster international research and innovation partnerships focused on initiatives that will have direct, deployable outcomes and technologies to benefit citizens in communities in India and Canada; and to showcase Canadian and Indian research and industrial innovation to each nation and accelerate the transfer of knowledge and technologies.
The ‘National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research‘, issued recently by the Union health ministry, has fixed the responsibility for investigators, institutions and sponsors in the conduct of stem cell research in the country.
According to the Guidelines, the investigators and institutions where stem cell research is being conducted bear the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that research activities are in accordance with the national regulations and guidelines. In particular, scientists whose research involves human ES cells should work closely with monitoring/regulatory bodies, demonstrate respect for autonomy and privacy of those who donate gametes, blastocysts, embryos or somatic cells for stem cell research, and be sensitive to public concerns about research that involves human embryos.
Those working with human iPS cells shall be particularly careful with the vectors and genes used for induction of stemness against malignant transformation. Sponsors shall also take note of their responsibilities and liabilities under various statutes, regulations and guidelines governing research and development in this field in the country.
As per the guidelines, each institution shall maintain a register of its investigators conducting stem cell research and ensure that all registered users are kept up to date with existing guidelines and regulations regarding the use of these cells. It shall also be the responsibility of the institution to ensure that most current standards are applied. Each institution shall constitute an IC-SCR as provided in these guidelines and provide adequate support for its functioning. All records pertaining to clinical adult stem cell research must be maintained for a period of at least five years and those for ES/iPS cell research for atleast10 years.
The guidelines further explain that the physician/scientist engaged in stem cell research shall endeavour to avoid any activity that leads to unnecessary hype, or unrealistic expectations in the minds of study subjects or public at large regarding stem cell therapy. The study subject and other responsible family members must be given adequate and unbiased information about the trial protocol, its limitations and potential adverse effects. They must also be informed about the given indication for therapy. The investigator’s responsibility is to generate robust scientific evidence through good clinical trials which may then be applied for the benefit of the patients.
According to the Guidelines, the institutions conducting stem cell research shall establish suitable mechanisms for creating awareness and communicating scientific evidences to the public. The basic scientists engaged in human stem cell research shall be vigilant to safeguard rights and dignity of human donors and aborted foetuses from whom samples for research have been obtained. The biological material should be treated with utmost respect and care in all experiments. The use of human embryos shall be restricted as much as possible, and shall be resorted to where there are no other alternatives. Also, special care should be taken in introducing human cells in animals, particularly in early developmental stages, which may lead to development of chimeras or incorporation into brain/gonads.
ICMR issues draft guidance document on ‘Research for biological (biomedical) prevention of HIV infection’
To promote research on biological/biomedical options including vaccines, microbicides, treatment for prevention and other strategies for preventing HIV infection, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued a draft guidance document on ‘Research for biological (biomedical) prevention of HIV infection’.
The draft document is meant to provide guidance for researchers in the field and also to position this document as an advocacy tool for greater support for biological/biomedical prevention options. The guidance document addresses the current status of research and research needs with reference to the different facets of prevention research including preclinical development, clinical trials and access; the gaps that need to be addressed and infrastructure needs.
According to senior officials in the ICMR, the guidance document has been prepared after extensive consultation with experts in this field. The ICMR has invited comments and suggestions from experts and other on this draft guidelines for finalization of the document till April 30, 2014.
Officials said that recent breakthroughs in HIV biomedical prevention research open new doors to reducing the scope of the epidemic. This progress also poses new questions and brings new challenges as we continue to move HIV biomedical prevention research forward. Understanding the needs and gaps in these efforts will help in providing appropriate direction and further impetus for research on biomedical prevention tools.
Currently, the country has an estimated more than 20 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS in 2011. The Indian epidemic is geographically diverse and is a mix of generalized and concentrated epidemics in different districts.
Overall high disease burden due to HIV, continuing high prevalence of HIV infection in certain populations and geographic areas and the limitations associated with interventions for behaviour change underline the need for a basket of biomedical options for prevention of HIV infection in India.
Along with necessary individual, social, structural, societal and developmental changes, a broad range of biomedical HIV prevention and treatment options is required to meet the diverse needs of individuals and populations. Comprehensive HIV prevention requires a combination of programmatic and policy actions that promote safer behaviours; reduce vulnerability to transmission; encourage use of key prevention technologies; promote social norms that favour risk reduction; and address drivers of the epidemic.