India is one of the top 12 destinations for biotechnology around the world. Right now, India biotechnology industry makes up only 3% of the by and large worldwide biotech market ($11.1 billion/₹81,680 crore) yet this number is relied upon to go up to 19% by 2025 ($100 billion/₹7.5lakh crore) that is very nearly one-fifth of the world’s biotech area. Indian Biotech industry has grown more than 4 times from 2017 to 2018 ($11.1B to $51B) The biotechnology business in India includes >2700 biotech new companies and is assessed to reach 10,000 by 2024 which expects to give excellent medications, better analysis and MedTech items accessible at sensible cost.
Let’s look at the top Most Innovative Biotech Startups to look forward to this year:
5. BUGWORKS RESEARCH INDIA PVT LTD:
- Founder Anand Anandkumar, lost his father who was a physician to an infection in Chennai. In and out of the hospital for a failing heart, he picked up a bug resistant to most antibiotics and died of complications from sepsis. The story is a common one in India, where so-called superbugs kill nearly 60,000 newborn every year. The rapid spread of resistant bacteria has now made India the epicenter of a war to prevent a post-antibiotic world, where people would once again die in their thousands of commonplace infections.
- We’re on the front line,” said Anandkumar, who co-founded Bengaluru-based startup Bugworks Research India Pvt Ltd a year after his father’s death, to develop new antibiotics. “We’re creating a bullet against organisms that are taking out humanity. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a battleground to test it on that’s really tough?” A study of one hospital in South India found half the patients acquired at least one infection during their stay, with about 74 percent of those infections showing resistance to multiple drugs.
- Last year, Bugworks became the first company in Asia to receive investment from CARB-X, the US government’s main funding vehicle for the fight against superbugs.
- Bugworks’ answer is an antibiotic that attacks bacteria in two ways at once rather than the single target approach of traditional drugs, making it harder for the bug to develop resistance. The drug also evades the bacteria’s own defenses, giving it more time to kill the infection. Anandkumar says the compound has shown effectiveness against lung, blood and urinary tract infections in animals. In about two years he says it should be ready for human trials.
- One thing that drives the effort in India is the personal experience of so many researchers. Staff at Bugworks recount stories of friends in their forties dying in hospital from pneumonia, or from a urinary tract infection that lasts months as one antibiotic after another fails to work.
- The biopharma startup has raised $16.5M from University of Tokyo Edge Capital, Global Brain Corporation & Aquipharma Holdings.
4. ZUMUTOR BIOLOGICS:
- In the early 2015, Kavita Iyer Rodrigues’s company ‘Theramyt’, as it was known then had seen two rounds of funding totaling $12 million. It had become one of the 10 companies that enable new molecule development focusing on cancer.
- In mid-2015, the founders decided to move to the U.S, Theramyt became Zumutor, headquartered in Boston, a biotech hub. This was to raise funds and gain market access; R&D however would continue out of the Bengaluru office.
- “Our first-in class lead molecule, ZM 008 has made industry validated progress and is poised for IND filing with Phase 1a/1b clinical trials likely to commence end of 2020”, said Kavita Iyer Rodrigues.
- The startup was one of the finalists in ‘The Economic Times Startup Awards’, 2019 edition.
3. VYOME THERAPEUTICS:
- A biopharmaceutical company focused on developing dermatology products, was founded in 2010 by Shiladitya Sengupta and Venkateswarlu Nelabhotla. It develops new technologies and a pipeline of drugs for antibiotic resistant acne, other opportunistic pathogens and anti-fungal agents in dermatology using its innovative next generation therapeutics solutions.
- The company has raised $48.3M from Iron Pillar, Sabre partners and Aarin Capital.
- The company’s lead drug candidate VB 1953, is a topical treatment product candidate for antibiotic- resistant acne being studied in Phase 2 trials.
- It has a deep pipeline of preclinical new entities, which are in unique in their ability to overcome the development of resistance and are based on its patented dual action rational therapeutics (DARTS) technology.
2. FARCAST BIOSCIENCES:
- Founded by Pradip. K Majumder & Mallikarjun Sundaram in 2010, Farcast Biosciences was formerly known as Mitra Biotech. It has raised $76M from Northpond Ventures, Tata Capital & Accel.
- Boston & Bengaluru based former Mitra Biotech develops and provides novel technologies that personalize Cancer
- At present, there’s no scientific basis for a doctor to choose a drug for a cancer. “As a population, every approved drug works, but as an individual, you don’t know which will work”, he says. A drug that works for 30% of patients, may seem great but is devastating for the rest 70%.
- Their platform CANscript enables physicians to select most optimal drug combinations by testing a tumor sample against various drug combinations simultaneously in a laboratory setting that mimics the actual human tumor microenvironment.
- For the patient, the test avoids toxicity from non-optimal drugs and is also a cost-saving step.
- Their hospital clients include cancer care hospitals such as Healthcare Global (HCG) Group of Hospitals, Apollo Hospital-Delhi and Fortis Hospital-Delhi.
- Founded by Sam Santosh in 2013, it is a biotech startup that offers genome-based diagnostics and research solutions. MedGenome has raised, $119M from investors like LeapFrog Investments, Sequoia Capital and Zodius Capital.
- According to MedGenome, the Indian Genetic diagnostics market is expected to expand at 42% CAGR over the next three years. Globally the market is expected to grow from $13B in 2019 to $28.5B by 2026.
- MedGenome claims its has already built the largest database of South Asian genetic variants through its leadership in genetic diagnostics in India, has completed over 200,000 genomic tests to date and obtains samples from more than 550 hospitals and 6000 clinicians across India.
- MedGenome provides doctor-prescribed genetic diagnostic tests for patients done by clinicians. Apart from this, the team also believes that the data regarding the Indian population is a great source of genomics research. This allows them to understand the history and pattern of a disease, which gives enough data for research. The MedGenome lab today offers a string of end-to-end diagnostics solutions.
- “India suffers the largest burden of inherited diseases with about 5-6 percent of the children born affected. Further, the adoption of Western lifestyles has largely increased the occurrence of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, we are creating the road for genetic testing in India. There aren’t many people who have stepped into the space. The market is huge and big enough to support a large number of players. In fact, more people are needed to develop the market,” says Santhosh.
- , Kavitha Iyer Rodrigues: Molecular formula to success, Fortune India
- Ari Altstedter, 2018, At the epicenter of a war, Indian antibiotic startups are fighting back, The Times of India
(Author of the article Anjali Gajra is currently pursuing Pharmaceutical Management degree in Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author in his private capacity)