India has achieved a major breakthrough in medical research with the efforts of a Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), a scientific research institute, in developing a medicine which prevents blood clots.
Its seven yeas of research recently led to the commercial launch of genetically modified recombinant streptokinase, a medicine that dissolves heart-attack causing clots inside blood vessels.
The drug is going through regulatory testing and expected to be commercialized by 2011.
Established in 1984, the Chandigarh-based IMTECH is the youngest among the 38 national laboratories functioning under the aegis of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
"This is a recombinant streptokinase which is much more economic as a result of the process by which it is made. So that the price of production of product is much lower than what it used to be previously. Therefore, this product has much more sustaining power and staying power in the market. The hope is that by the introduction of this drug the overall price the overall price of the clot buster drugs will go down. The clot buster drugs are extremely vital lifesaver drugs because when somebody gets a heart attack, within a few hours clot buster drug is given and about 30 to 40 lives can be saved. So it is a kind of SOS therapy, which before a patient can be wheeled into the hospital for bypass is done. This can save lives," said Dr. Girish Sahni, Director, IMTECH in Chandigarh.
IMTECH scientists have also licensed an improved, new clot specific thromblytic to Nostrum Inc, USA and Symmetrics Biotech, India recently.
Another thrombolytic protein, Staphylokinase has been licensed to M/S Strides Arcolab Ltd., Bangalore.
IMTECH's efforts have given India and the world four molecules that fight clots associated with heart attacks and prove that India does not lag behind in medical research.
"Actually in all research you get different kinds of problems. And if you are doing this work, then the challenge is to make it commercially viable. So you have to develop a system that can be used for marketing a product, so you have to optimize the cost. For example in case of genetic engineering, in case of developing fermentation process, in case of downswing processing. So lot of effort is required," said Kanak Dikshit, a scientist with IMTECH in Chandigarh.
A study by California-based firm reveals that India has the highest incidence of heart related diseases in the world.
And if no initiative is taken to check the disease, the most predictable and also preventable among all chronic diseases, India will have 62 million patients by 2015, compared to 16 million in the U.S.
The percentage of people suffering from heart disease had increased from 1-2 to 3-5 per cent in rural India and from 2-3 to 10-11 percent in urban India.
IMTECH's research in clot buster molecules will help provide an affordable treatment to heart patients.