Updated on 21 November 2012
The diversification of portfolios should get due attention from the companies. Mere following each other won't help. Getting into new areas of technology space and development of instrumentation and high value research must be prioritized. Also the dependence on government for funding must be slowly reduced. New avenues to generate funds must be explored. Moreover, there is something amiss in our biotech education policy too. Every year we are churning our MSc graduates in large numbers without even proper knowledge of basic fundamental principles of biotech. The importance of mathematics is crucial for the higher research and needs to be incorporated right from the basic level.
In affordable healthcare, the entire thrombolytics drugs (which help dissolve blood clots) is an area of our research. Cardiovascular medicines are expensive and some of our innovations have helped bring down prices of injections from Rs 8,000 to Rs 1,000. Now we have come up with new generation drugs that only destroy the clot and do not touch anything else. That is the new bio-therapeutic that has moved to clinical trials and all that work has happened at CSIR's Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology. There are plenty of other examples to share that make CSIR's contribution to the industry a phenomenal one.
How can the industry and academia be self reliant?
I think the government funding has been reasonable enough but we in fact sometimes have less absorption capacity. Both academia and industry must build its capacity to survive on own and reduce dependency over the period of time. The potential philanthropic funding, new sources of foreign funding need to be explored. I think with lesser government funding, the scientist will have to perform more and will be under an obligation to show quick results.
I must also add that regulatory infrastructure also needs to be revamped. The quick clearances are very important for fewer hassles in product development. Also the leaderships within academic institutes and industry have to be more dynamic in their attitude.
Which are the next steps for CSIR in the area of bioscience?
Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) has shown tremendous scope for future. The open innovation in a country like India where we have so many young minds, serves as a great platform to express ideas and partner. At present close to 6,000 people across the globe are a part of the project and we are moving towards a new direction. Already clinical trials have been initiated on a TB molecule in partnership with TB Alliance.