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November 9, 1998


Hyderabad's IICT ties up with Cytomed Inc for 3 US patents, more JVs planned

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The Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology has embarked on joint patenting with multinational corporations, making a beginning by jointly filing for three United States patents for the novel process technologies developed for a new anti-asthma drug molecule to be introduced in the international market.

The THE IICT, which had entered into three contracts with US-based Cytomed Incorporated, had completed the development work on the new process technologies for the new molecule three months ahead of schedule. Sponsors had commended the IICT's scientific contribution in several international fora.

Three joint patents were filed by the IICT and the American company in the United States for the work, the the IICT director Dr K Raghavan said last week.

Already the IICT he said had received the US patent for the new ''AZT'' drug developed by it for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. The technology has been transferred to Cipla, an Indian drug major.

The institute, he said, was in the process of transferring the technology for another anti-viral drug, lamavadine, which could combat AIDS and other viral infections. The laboratory process had been done by the IICT and the institute was working out with another Indian drug company, Lupin, for transfer of technology. New technologies on AIDS were underway at the institute, he added.

Saying that its earnings from overseas had doubled to $ 1 million in a single year in 1997-98, he said the institute had so far filed 250 patents of which about 20 per cent had gone into production. About 12 per cent of the patents, he said were transferred to the MNCs.

Dr Raghavan said the the IICT, had in 1997-98, availed a Rs 150 million World Bank soft loan for capability building in new research areas of current and future scientific and commercial importance. The institute implemented this major project in a record one year period and the Council for Scientific and Industial Research director-general Dr R S Mashelkar had formally launched the additional facilities in September this year.

The facilities included automated solid-liquid extraction facility for natural products, catalysts and reaction engineering laboratory for development of catalysts for eco-friendly process technologies, molecular thermo-chemistry laboratory for evaluating thermal behaviour of hazardous chemicals and processes, molecular modellor and combinational synthesiser for development of bio-active molecules and bio-evaluation (entomological, toxicological and pharmacological) facilities for screening of new molecules.

Besides, sophisticated instruments for characterisation of catalysts, polymers and speciality chemicals and fully computerised management information system with Internet and E-mail connectivity were installed at the institute.

Terming the the IICT's research contract with British major Smithkline Beecham as a "pathbreaking development", he said under the contract, study would be taken up for developing new solid phase chemistry for 14 chemical transformations. This would enable SB to create combinational libraries for generation of thousands of novel chemical compounds for new drug development.

The institute, Dr Raghavan said, had recently entered into contract with Yamanouchi Limited of Japan for developing novel processes and new drug molecules and the work was in advanced stage. Over the past three years, nearly 800 novel molecules were synthesised under the IICT's programme on new chemical entities for agro-chemicals with world chemical major, Du Pont of the United States.

The IICT had also entered into research contracts with ICI of Belgium for polyols from agro-based feedstocks, Cargill of the US for innovative technologies for byproduct utilisation and Dupont-Merck, D and E Chemicals of the US and Nippon Shokubai of Japan for synthesis of novel molecules.

He explained that the institute pursued two types of Collaborations -- one to take up the work on its own and transfer the technology or work in particular areas identified by the MNCs.

The IICT, in a significant move, was entering into collaboration with leading Indian companies for long-term research and development, Dr Raghavan said.

He said the institute had developed strategic industrial partnerships with public sector Hindustan Organics for bulk organic chemicals, with Indian Oil for developing synthetic lubricants, with BHEL for fuel cells, with Ranbaxy for new anti-cancer and anti-fungal drug molecules, with the Kerala-based Arya Baidya Shala for re-standardisation of traditional medicines, with BDMA for modernisation of small-scale drug industries, with the Hyderabad-based EPTRI for chemical plant safety and with Gas Authority of India Limited for developing gas-based technologies.

As part of the government-industry joint sponsorship for the IICT technologies, the institute was currently implementing five projects contracted for more than Rs 60 million for the development of 'pyrazinamide', an anti-tuberculosis precursor, 'furfurol', an organics intermediate, temperature sensitive labels, acephates and secondary "fenvalerate" for pesticides and polyurethane coating for particle board.


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