Updated on 29 October 2012
Ms Susan K Finston, co-founder, CEO and MD, Amrita Therapeutics
During the mid 2000s, Ms Susan K. Finston along with Dr Ananda M Chakrabarty, were tracking the business opportunities in India, so as to set up a biotech company. This led to the birth of Amrita Therapeutics in 2008 as a bio-discovery company in Gujarat. The firm aimed to develop new, innovative therapies with effectiveness against cancer and other viral or parasitic public health threats through commercialization of multiple-disease targeting (MDT) drugs.
Speaking about the reasons behind the inception of the firm, Ms Finston recalls that, "Over 10 years back, Ananda and I supported efforts to bring product-patent protection to India in order to promote an innovative climate for bio-pharmaceutical R&D and commercialization of science. Even before passage of the Third Patent Amendments in 2005, we began to talk about how wonderful it would be to-be-able-to establish a new biotech start-up company in India. We would benefit from full patent protection and do research on everything from soup to nuts. We would be able to bring entirely new, innovative bio-pharmaceutical therapies to market. This was the seed of Amrita Therapeutics."
While Ms Finston has over 20 years of varied government and private sector legal experience, with particular expertise in bio-pharmaceutical policy, development, and related intellectual property (IP) management; Dr Chakrabarty is a distinguished university professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He also advises senior officials in the US and abroad on policies relating to biotechnology and related technology transfer.
Sharing her views on launching the company, Ms Finston said that, "We had our soft launch at the height of the global financial crisis and feel fortunate that we were able to bring the company forward with seed funding from Gujarat Venture Finance Limited (GVFL), despite the challenging external environment."
As the first company in India being focused on MDT drug development, Amrita Therapeutics has filed several patents (in India and through the Patent Cooperation Treaty), and is now entering into in vivo research (animal studies) as a pre-requisite for human clinical trials for lead compounds. Amrita Therapeutics has advanced its research program with grant support and technical advice from the department of biotechnology (DBT), government of India and through research partnerships with academic institutions in India and in Lisbon, Portugal.