Nicholas Piramal & DBT to jointly scout for biomolecules

THE public-private partnership model is now catching up in the drug R&D as well. In a first-ofits-kind partnership, the Rs 3,000-crore Nicholas Piramal Group on Friday signed an agreement with department of biotechnology (DBT) to jointly screen for biomolecules from microbes. The project cost is Rs 25 crore, of which Rs 17.98 crore will be contributed by DBT and Rs 6.88 crore by Nicholas Piramal. About 7,000 isolates per month will be collected and sent to Nicholas for screening, which will amount to 2 lakh molecules in three years. Joint collection will be done by nine institutes under DST such as National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, National Centre for Cell Science, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, National Institute of Oceanography, etc. This is the first project in which industry and academia will work together to screen such a large number of bacterial isolates. The screening will be done for anti-cancer, anti-infective, anti-diabetes and anti-inflammation properties. In addition to culture-dependent method, culture-independent approach will be adopted for a few samples. "The global antibiotic market is worth $25 billion and there's an immense opportunity to increase the share of patents through the discovery of newer molecules. The partnership will eventually help us develop cheaper drugs,' said Union minister for science & technology Kapil Sibal.