What sets apart a venture in biotechnology led industries (healthcare, lifesciences, pharma, etc.) is the time to market. The amount of basic research from idea to market is enormous. Most of these research require highly specialized equipment and skillsets. Both of which is hard to find. This is the reason why academia is closely involved with this domain.
At the 2011 BioInvest meet at Bangalore organized by ABLE (Association of Biotech Led Enterprises) gave an insight into how exciting the opportunities are out thereand the fundamental entry barriers entrepreneurs face.
Here is look at the four award winning ideas.
Manufacturing Inexpensive Carbon Nano Tubes
The Winner of the BEST competition 2011 is the group from Sastra University. The students have already set up a venture called Damascus Fortune and is planning to mass produce carbon nano-tubes cheaper than what current Chinese manufacturers are producing.
This can change many existing industries where carbon nano tubes can replace the material used. Carbon nano tubes are supposed to be more flexible and stronger than steel. It is several factors lighter than any known material. Any industry which is presently using composite materials to achieve flexibility, strength and lightness can actively switch over to carbon nano tubes.
Keratinative is a venture floated by the students of ICGEB (International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.) The primary products they are Kairo and Levigo, both cosmetics. Kairo is a product which promises complete hair-removal in minutes. And Levigo promises to delay hair growth.
Single Multi-diagnostic kit
PalmLab is a multidiagnostic kit designed by the students of IIT-Mumbai. This kit promises to diagnose a single drop of blood for multiple diseases within minutes. This totally avoids the patient going for multiple tests. The accuracy rate is promised to be high.
The usage is as simple as using a gloucometer. The blood sample is taken and fed into a reader. The reader-cum-analyzer processes the data from the sample and outputs the analysis to output terminal such as an android or iOS phone.
Fungal infection Erased
Interventionary Nano is another concept developed by the students of ICGEB (different group from the PalmLab's). This group has been thinking on some groundbreaking ideas on treating fungal infections in patients. Based on recent studies on treating drug resistant fungi, the group has conceptualized a nano intervention method to treat the fungal infection.
When a patient is infected by a fungi, current treatments may not eliminate it completely. Part of the fungi remains dormant and evolves to resist the drugs. Researchers in Toronto Univeristy have found that a combination of HSP 90 protein inhibitor and anti-fungal drugs can completely eliminate the fungi. The catch is HSP 90 is present both in the infected humans and the fungi. The treatment works only when the HSP 90 present in the fungi is turned off leaving the one present in the human on.
The group proposes to use a nano intervention approach to penetrate the fungi cells and turn off the HSP 90. NanoVen, the group's conceptual drug aims to eradicate all fungal infection with a single shot.
It is evident that we have some very bright students and highly qualified and able mentors guiding them. However, they will face a huge mountain range of roadblocks in terms of IP protection, regulatory clearances and time to market.
Echoing this sentiment, Advinus' Rashmi Barbhaiya said, "I see an immense potential in your concept but be very careful about regulatroy clearances, clinical trials. Don't restrict yourself to the knowledge of your professors. Go out and talk to people who have gone through this journey to understand the implications."
ABLE has put together a platform where young researchers can now bring their ideas and concepts to life and do a reality check. What requires to be done is for the seniors in the industry to mentor some of these promising concepts.
Dare will try to talk to each group and get a first-hand account of what's behind the ideas.
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