Biotech Science Clusters
Research and development in Biotechnology sector in a cluster format with core emphasis on innovation is critical for the growth of biotechnology entrepreneurship. Keeping in view the importance of developing bioclusters, National Biotechnology Development Strategy aims to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub by creating a technology development and translation network across the country through establishment of bioclusters, incubators, technology transfer centres etc. The Government also announced for establishment of Biotech Science clusters at Faridabad (Haryana), Mohali (Punjab), Pune (Maharashtra), Kalyani (W. Bengal) and Bangalore (Karnataka) during the Budget speech in February, 2014. So far, four Bioclusters have been established at Faridabad, Bangalore, Kalyani and Pune to spur innovative research and development and entrepreneurship activities.
The Systems Medicine Cluster (SyMeC), Kalyani, West Bengal:
The Systems Medicine Cluster includes six major institutions, both clinical and basic science and is poised to be an example of cross-talk between doctors, basic scientists and biotechnologists to enable deeper understanding of diseases at the level of biological systems and thereby accelerate treatment and management of diseases. SyMeC is using two common diseases (gingivo-buccal oral and cervical cancers, that are most prevalent forms of cancer among men and women in India, respectively) as exemplars to show that a combination of expertise of disparate domains can achieve the goal of understanding the pathobiology of disease and formulating a systems biology approach to clinical management. The institutions that belong to the cluster are:
- National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani (Nodal Centre);
- Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata;
- Bose Institute, Kolkata;
- CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata;
- Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata ; and
- Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata.
All six institutions comprising the cluster are working in close collaboration and in a networked fashion, complementing one another with different domains of expertise required to make systems medicine a reality. The cluster aims to provide improved genomic signatures for prediction of progression, recurrence and failure of standard treatment for improved disease management; identify actionable targets on biological pathways and peptides/small-molecules to interact with some of the targets. Following progress has been made: l A peptide has been designed to block a key gain-of-function oncogenic mutation in TP53 gene. l Retrospective samples have been collated to identify genomic signatures in cervical tumor biopsies to predict recurrence after treatment. l Non-invasive signatures in cervical cancer: Data from assays in metabolites and diversity of microbiome have been generated, on small a sub-set of cervical scrape samples, out of 40 prospectively collected patients of cervical cancer. The data are now being analysed.
NCR Biotech Science Cluster:
The NCR Biotech Science Cluster (NCR-BSC) has been established in Faridabad within the National Capital Region to foster biotech innovation through sharing of recourses and expertise of the various member institutions of the cluster. Processes have been put in place to achieve the objectives of the cluster and there is already a significant synergy in functioning of the various cluster institutions at the operational and scientific levels. NCR Biotech Science Cluster aims to provide strategic support to national & regional research organizations in creation and integration of scientific, technical & business related frameworks that would accelerate and translate discoveries and carry out validation and transfer of product technologies to enterprises. The major initiatives/activities under taken during the year are as follows:
- l Interim Office of Connectivity has been set-up.
- Common cluster facilities like the small animal facility, auditorium, student hostel, and common activities like the Electrical substation and general maintenance, horticulture/gardening, cafeteria, and campus security are fully operational and managed jointly by THSTI and RCB.
- l Establishment and operation of Advanced Technology Platform Centre (ATPC) and Bioincubator as the shared service resources for the cluster and the nation.
- l Monthly seminar series rotating within the cluster institutions initiated.
The operation of common facilities under the cluster concept has led to substantial savings to the government by pooling resources and avoiding duplication. Enhanced interaction among the scientists of the cluster institutions is expected to lead to interdisciplinary research and novel innovations.
Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster, Bengaluru:
The Overall goal of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster is to build the necessary infrastructure, human resources and to enable research and innovation activities across life sciences and biotechnology domains by leveraging the existing resources in the Bangalore Life Science Cluster (inStem, NCBS, C-CAMP) and its partner campuses (IBAB, IISc, etc) and build on them. During the year a national electron-cryo microscopy facility, accessory laboratories and a neuroinformatics resource have been set up at the Bangalore Life Science Cluster. The resource is now being used and several structures have been determined by people at the bio-cluster as well as by outside users. Eighteen different groups from different parts of the country have come and worked on the electron microscope. A training program to industry for use of the resources in drug discovery was organized. Electron density from the active site of a thermophilic enzyme that is isolated from a bacteria involved in bioremediation in the tanneries of Kanpur. The enzyme is a formamidase with a novel active site with a Fe bound to two Tyrosines.
The project on “Establishment of a Pune Biotech Cluster, “Model Organisms to Human Disease” was sanctioned on 29.06.2018 with a total cost of Rs.12541.3012 lakhs for a period of three years. The project is being jointly implemented by National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. The Pune Bio-cluster aims to enhance academic interactions between various institutions in Pune and also to provide an opportunity for the members of the cluster to take advantage of each other’s expertise in developing animal models for tackling human disease. The project also will provide the platform to use high end facilities developed as a part of the cluster to nucleate available resources for better utilization and encourage sharing of national resources which could also be used widely by start-ups. The infrastructure is being set up. The training modules are designed and training workshops have been initiated for academic institutions using the high-end facilities. During the year, one hands on training and 3 demo activities on different microscopes have been undertaken. The discussions between institutions to leverage each other’s scientific strength is under full swing and constant discussions are in place to utilise the common resources to benefit the academic institutions including students and staffs at large to the maximum extent possible. The project on “Establishment of A Pune Biotech Cluster, “Model Organisms to Human Disease” was sanctioned with a total cost of Rs.12541.3012 lakhs At SyMeC screened small molecule stabilizers of SMAR1 in cervical cancer cells: Two analogs have been identified.A National electron-cryo microscopy facility, accessory laboratories and a neuroinformatics resource have been set up at the Bangalore Life Science ClusterAdvanced Technology Platform Centre (ATPC), Bio-incubator and a Small Animal Facility have been established at NCR Biocluster, as the shared service resources for the cluster and the nation. Interim Office of Connectivity has been set-up at NCR Biocluster