Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Drug Discovery in Noida

Recently, a small company I admire - Curadev Pharma PL - signed a $555 million deal with Roche, one of the oldest and largest bio-pharma companies in the world.

Amazingly, the news seems to have gone completely unnoticed by India's 'mainstream media'.

To be sure, there are a number of good reasons why this development was "newsworthy", especially when everybody seems to harping on the "Make in India" mantra:

Curadev is based out of Noida, a New Delhi suburb, miles away from the nearest biotechnology park or national lab. It has created and sustained world-class R&D facilities in a neighborhood prone to extended, unscheduled power outages;  It has built a team of dedicated professionals in an industry where loyalties are fickle at best and, now, it has entered into a partnership with a pharma major at a time when industry counterparts have settled themselves into making "copycat" drugs & formulations.

So what exactly has Curadev achieved?

An Investigational New Drug (IND) developed by Curadev holds the promise of medical treatment for a wide range of cancers. IND is an FDA technical term for a drug that is 'the subject of an approved marketing application' before it is transported or distributed. In this case the IND is for new drug molecule that could inhibit IDO1 (indoleamine-2, 3-dioxygenase-1) and TDO (tryptophan-2, 3-dioxygenase) -- two enzymes that mediate cancer-induced immune suppression.

Cancer cells grow and proliferate because they are able to fool our immune systems. Many different types of cancer cells produce enzymes like IDO1 and TDO which break down our neurotransmitters before they can alert our immune systems. The new molecule discovered by Curadev would inhibit IDO1 and TDO produced by cancerous cells, allowing our immune system to do its job of marking and destroying unwanted, dangerous cells.

Most Indian companies that reach the IND stage do not have the financial stamina to run the drug discovery marathon. They usually end up selling their discoveries to Big Pharma. Curadev has bucked this trend and entered into a strategic partnership for the next stage.

Lets hope this will lead Curadev to a real blockbuster that is 'Made in India'!


No comments: