Covid And Its Vaccine: The New Start-ups On The Block


 

Indian pharmaceutical industry is a global leader in the generics space. As big companies race to find Covid vaccine, start-ups have stepped forward to find a solution, especially in drug discovery at the back of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Joining the Covid vaccine development, drug discovery race

Mynvax

The start-up, incubated by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, is developing a homegrown Covid vaccine which is already in the stage for process development, manufacturing, formal safety and toxicity studies, and human clinical trials. The start-up, co-founded by biophysicist Raghavan Varadarajan and biotech entrepreneur Gautham Nadig, together with Indian Institute of Science has developed and tested a heat-tolerant Covid vaccine formulation. The company has also applied for Rs 15 crores in funding from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to accelerate its operations in drug discovery. 

PredOmix Technologies 

The Gurgaon-based start-up was recently enrolled in a project sanctioned by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to develop human monoclonal antibodies as therapy for Covid-19 infections. Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) will lead a project which brings together the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) in Pune, and Indian Institute of Technology-Indore and PredOmix Technologies.

Accubit Invents

This Kerala-based start-up has recently identified two commercially available antiviral drug molecules that may hold some potential in the battle against Covid-19, through computation modelling. A small team of researchers at the artificial intelligence lab at Accubit, based in Thiruvananthapuram, identified molecules that have biomarker property and could have possible future use in developing kits that can easily detect Covid-19. The start-up is in the process of setting up a bio research and development lab. The study was done using the software called Discovery Studio at the University of Kerela, which is an effective strategy used by pharma firms worldwide for reducing the cost of drug discovery.

Elucidata

This drug discovery start-up recently raised $5 Million in a pre-Series A funding round led by IvyCap Ventures to fuel their post-covid demand. This Delhi-based biomedical molecular data company has developed Polly, a SaaS platform for drug discovery with insights driven by biomedical data. The platform has over 30 partners in the industry and academia as its customers. In the past seven months, Elucidata has seen increased demand while expanding adoption at enterprise clients such as Genentech, TRV, Alnylam Therapeutics, and Agios.

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Start-ups are using artificial intelligence in drug discovery, from identifying candidates, to conducting clinical trials, to publishing data.

Bayers Lab

Founded in 2019, this Bengaluru-based start-up is an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based drug discovery platform. The start-up has entered into partnerships with biotech and pharma companies and is in discussions with various investors to raise funds to aggressively expand its customer base, especially amid pandemic. 

Mature stage start-ups Bugworks in Bengaluru, Hyderabad-based Vitas Pharma, Curadev and incubators like Integral Biosciences are also working on solutions to aid the fight against the virus.

Naina Sood
Naina Sood
Naina is assistant editor at Dutch Uncles, she writes on policies, business-life-cycle, funding and start-ups. An alumna of University of Nottingham, her stint includes Businessworld and Hindustan Times.

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