Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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06-06-2006 : Bangalore
Healthcare is a beautiful Mission

"Competitiveness is powered by technology"


I am delighted to participate in the inauguration of BIOCON Park, Bangalore. My greetings to the organizers, pharma technologists, chemists, doctors, academicians, industrialists and distinguished guests. I am happy to know that this park comprises of integrated cluster of research laboratories and manufacturing facilities co-located for producing state-of-the-art bio-pharmaceutical products. I understand the Park will concentrate on fermentation based bio-pharmaceuticals, targeted at the disease segments such as: cardio vascular, immuno-suppressants for organ transplants and diabetes and cancer. I congratulate Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and her team for carrying out pioneering work in the development of cost effective bio-technology products for our society. I have discussed in my recent Technology day address to the nation, BIOCON's contribution of BIOMAb-EGFR, a cost effective anti-cancer drug. I greet the BIOCON Team for this innovation. After visiting BIOCON and seeing all of you with knowledge and enthusiasm, I am confident that you will continuously make unique contributions in the field of biotechnology based products in the future. I was reading New Scientist, last night; it talks about the research and business of Biotechnology in the leading countries. Of course, they are USA and Switzerland, I am sure BIOCON will find a place in the world biotechnology product map very soon. Now I would like to discuss on certain research areas. The topic I have selected is "Healthcare is a beautiful Mission".


Pharma Vision

Presently, the Indian Pharma industry is contributing to a production of $8 billion worth of products against the total world production $ 600 billion including $ 75 billion of bio-tech products. While evolving the Pharma Vision 2020, I have suggested that we should identify all missions which will make India the leader in drug production and we should have a target of producing 20% of the total value of production in the world and global sales of drugs with the Indian multinational companies established in the world. India has got a core competence of producing cost effective Pharma products. I am sure the scientists and Bio-technologists of BIOCON will keep this target in mind and contribute adequately for the realization of Indian Pharma Vision 2020. Here, I would like to recall a visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan by a scientists? team from Johns Hopkins University from USA.


Evolution of research philosophy

As you all know that Johns Hopkins University in USA is doing pioneering research work in the medical field. I met Dr. Charles Cummings of the Johns Hopkins Board and his team at Rashtrapati Bhawan During our discussions, I asked Dr Charles, "What made Johns Hopkins a world class medical research center in addition to its cherishing societal missions?" He said, "it is a great tradition, and it started with a number of visionaries with value system and missions, working together". Vision and working together is the important ingredient for institutions like BIOCON. I am sure you have this tradition and culture. Since you are in the business of bioscience and biotechnology, you will very well appreciate the importance of competitiveness.



Business symbolizes Competitiveness. Competitiveness leads to economic growth. Competitiveness is a single factor which will decide India transforming into a developed nation. Technology powers the competitiveness. Competitiveness leads to creation of a brand institution. BIOCON Park could be a unique research-cum-production center for making your company a global leader in certain classes of Drugs. The use of right technologies in R&D will bring in the right non-linear growth in the Pharma sector. When I visited Kyiev, Ukraine recently, I found rows of chestnut trees on both flanks of highways interspersed with advertisements for Indian pharma products. It was a beautiful sight to see. I am sure very soon I will be able to see the BIOCON products traveling worldwide. I am sure the present R&D work and global business development efforts will give you additional technological strengths to meet this challenge. The past meets the present and creates the future. Genetic medicines and genetic drugs are going to be the future health care system, after the characterization of Chromosome ONE, which has maximum genes.


The science of proteomics and gene chip

India missed the great opportunity in partnering the human genome project and thereby has the disadvantage in acquiring the right type of database. I suggest the Indian biomedical community to take the initiative to become a working partner in the proteomics project of gene characterization. Proteomics is the study of all the proteins expressed by the genome of a cell. It is the logical extension of genomics. Proteomics helps to understand the basic biological processes critical to normal cellular functions as well as the development of diseases. It identifies the essential components of these processes and exploits these components as targets in the development of new methods to prevent or treat diseases. The national programme on proteomics has to be accelerated with partnership from industries and R & D laboratories. I would suggest that this should be pursued as a mission mode project. The proteomics resulting into a gene chip can become the future diagnosis and treatment regime for many diseases. I am sure that BIOCON is aware of the progress made in the proteomics programme. This will enable the genetic characterization leading to forecasting and diagnosis of the disease for adopting suitable preventive and curative measures in the form of diagnostic system and drugs.


Gene Chip

Recently, I visited Dr. K.M. Cherian's Medical Centre at Chennai. It is known as, International Centre for Biomedical Sciences and Technology (Research & Applications). There I interacted with Dr. Emmanuel, who is working in the area of Gene Chip. He says, the Gene Chip can be used for finding the existence of genetic diseases including coronary artery diseases or neuro defect in the baby during a certain stage of pregnancy itself. The chip could also be modified to suggest to the patient's system to develop those chemicals which in turn will help the patient recover from the present situation. Can medical bio-informatics help in finding a treatment regime for the mother which may give immunity to the child from the disease' The scientists of the BIOCON Park should work with other research centers for maximizing the application of medical bio-informatics for diagnostics and determination of treatment regime.


Nano-bio technologies

Nanotechnology is knocking at our doors, which has wider applications. With the emergence of Nanotechnology, there is convergence of nano-bio-info technologies resulting new devices which has wider applications in structure, electronics, and healthcare and space systems. It will be the central focus for many technologies to converge and open a large number of applications. Further, this technology will have a large domestic market potential leading to a robust economy. Nano-bio medical sensors will play a major role in glucose detection and endoscopic implants. Nano-technological application to drug delivery system will revolutionize the health-care.

The world market of nano biotechnology is expected to be in billions of dollars by 2012. I have come across number of patents being filed by Dr. Maitra of Delhi University especially in the area of Drug delivery system. I would suggest the members of BIOCON Park may like to explore this area for nano technology application and if necessary create national and global partnership to get strategic leadership in this emerging area.


Molecule to drug

In India many R&D organizations and Pharma industries discover the molecules, but most of these newly discovered pharmaceutical molecules are sold to multinationals abroad for further development to drug. Naturally, the benefit of value addition goes to the companies abroad. The research and drug design, development and acceptance for introduction are a big mission. Many researchers whom I know, say that the situation is fast changing. Only the value addition will make the nation competitive. Molecule to drug is indeed the business of strong minds with the capacity to take calculated risks. In this connection, I recall the principle taught by my Guru, Prof Satish Dhawan, "If you don't do anything, there is no problem. But, if one takes challenging tasks, problems will always occur. But problems should not become masters of the doers. Instead the problem has to be defeated and we should succeed." I am happy to know that the BIOCON Research Center is going to work on discovering new molecules and transform them into drugs with special focus on drug development for cancer and inflammation.


New Challenge for BIOCON

Recently, I read the book "Visions" by Michio Kaku. An important experience is reported there. "Scientists of New York University have found that 13 out of 26 HIV patients using Indinavir had no detectable virus in their blood at all. And 24 out of 26 patients taking a combination of Indinavir, AZT and 3TC also had no trace of the AIDS virus. This makes it the most powerful form of therapy ever developed against AIDS. Another protease inhibitor, Ritonavir, also has had promising results, reducing the mortality rate by half among 1,100 patients. We have shown that we can suppress viral replication and keep it there, said Julio S.G. Montaner of the University of British Columbia. At present AIDS researches are cautious. As Harvey Kakadon of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston said: Furthermore, the drugs are very costly and it is not known if a resistant strain will eventually crop up." I am referring this information with you because HIV control and HIV prevention is an important mission for India. BIOCON can definitely participate in the business of infectious diseases, but challenges are there.


Traditional health care: Experiences

I would like to share my experiences when I was teaching in Anna University, Chennai. One of them resulted in getting a patent for a new molecule discovered from a herb, as an anti cancer drug. This came out of the fusion of two great minds, one was a bio technologist and the other was a traditional Siddha medical practitioner. The traditional system of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha etc., have advocated and practiced preventive and curative medicinal recipes specific to individuals. The body, mind, food and environment were looked at holistically to suggest a preventive or curative approach to health. Medicinal plants offer enormous scope for development of drugs. We need to create database of traditional medicinal plants for specific bioactivity and lead for development of new drugs. India has got tremendous opportunities for herbal farming and research. I am sure scientists of BIOCON Park will be interested in this area of research.


Conclusion: Vision for BIOCON

I am happy that BIOCON has moved on to become a research based drug development and manufacturing organization. I would recommend that you should enter into novel drug delivery system which will ensure your achieving the vision of becoming a research driven global Pharma Company. In this process the strong capability in Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) and a capability to go through the rigorous international approving authority, what you have achieved will be a great asset. I suggest some possible new areas which can be launched by BIOCON Park over a decade.

a. BIOCON should aspire to become one of the top 10 bio-pharma companies of the world within the next five years.

b. The scientists of BIOCON should work for realizing minimum two drugs from new molecule. One for cancer and another for inflammatory disease.

c. BIOCON can consider making use of Orphan Drug Molecule which is controlled by the low volume need, specific to the particular country. Business volume may not be high initially but once developed many applications can follow leading to profitability. In addition to profitability, the drugs developed will serve the purpose in the third world and also enhance the R&D capability of BIOCON as a global player.

d. BIOCON should enter into scientifically proved standardized traditional medicine and also drugs for HIV control.

While inaugurating the BIOCON Park, I wish you all success in your mission of developing, producing and marketing cost effective quality drugs and delivery systems in the global arena.

May God bless you.




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