A collaboration between Canadian and Indian entities aims to disrupt the development of drugs by making them more affordable and efficient while targeting what is perceived as the coming epidemic of age-related maladies in India.
The partnership will marry bleeding-edge Canadian research to multiple advantages that India brings to the table.
At the Canadian end is the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Center (TRAC), founded and led by Sachdev Sidhu, a professor in the department of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto. TRAC was spun out of Sidhu Lab and is conducting research into nearly 100 disease-countering antibodies.
In India, there’s MedGenome led by serial entrepreneur Sam Santhosh. It is headquartered in San Francisco but has a strong presence in Bangalore as what is claimed to be India’s largest genetic diagnostics operation.
The platform developed by Sidhu’s team, Synthetic Antibody Engineering, will work with processes India has mastered. As Sidhu said in an interview at his office at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, what they do really well is “cell biology, antibody engineering”.
India brings a complementary strength to the table – its strength in manufacturing derived from generic drug development.
“That’s what India actually excels at – volume, quality. And when you have that drug scaled up, the last step is clinical trials. Again India is becoming more and more a player in clinical trials,” he said.
Added to this are more pluses like a huge population that offers “incredible genetic diversity”. And just as important, Sidhu pointed out, “India is also a world leader in informatics. Information technology, that is becoming the other big thing in medicine.”
Professor Sachdev Sidhu in his office at the University of Toronto.
(Christine Misquitta, University of Toronto)
At its core, the effort involves drugs based on antibodies, which “fight infection” in the body.