Updated on 4 May 2012
What various infrastructure and technology are being used by NITD?
We have set up all the tools to do drug discovery for TB and we are testing our libraries and we are designing new drugs. And with a lot of trial and errors. We are doing most of the modern experiments, applying modern science to this field and this takes a lot of time. Essentially we are now at the level where we have all the state of the art assays, we have high throughput screening for CDTs, We have a big biosafety level 3 laboratory, which means that we can work on the TB bacteria, we can do experiments with infected rats in here which only few labs can do.
We have now selected a few members from chemical families, what we call chemical scaffolds, that seem to atleast have the properties that show them to be effective against resistant strains . We take these chemical starting points, which are not drugs yet, and need to do a lot of chemistry as these are only molecules that kill the bacteria. But there are lots of problems like they are not soluble or too expensive or they dont go through membranes. And that is the whole process of drug discovery and development and medicinal chemistry which takes a long time.
Could you shed some light on the 'not-for-profit' adopted by NITD?
We have generated a large amount of science and published a lot of papers. We have shared our results with the public and other scientists, we have put it in public databases so that other people dont try and make the same mistakes that we have done and take those molecules that we have published and do things that we did not think of doing. In the pharma industry they usually keep research data as propriety as a competitive advantage. But we have dedicated this institute here to the neglected diseases of the developing world where we do not expect any financial returns and hence we can be much open with our information.
Who are your partners?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK and the TB Alliance.
What do you think is the most positive and negative aspect of the 'not-for-profit' functioning of your organization?
The positive aspect of the not-for-profit model is that we can work along with some of the Indian drug manufacturers, who have the expertise and can produce cheaper drugs as compared to others. The negative aspect is that while for us, making these TB drugs is a contribution towards medicine, many companies who do not do the research, take what is already done and copy it. For them its a business. So the only thing they want is, to sell alot. You need to sell the drugs only to the people at the right time along with combination of other drugs. This does not optimize your sales but it saves people. And so that is a matter of grave concern.