Rs 25 cr project launched to find new antibiotics

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New Delhi, Feb 22 (UNI) The Government today launched a Rs 24.86 crore project to exploit the biodiversity of microbes in the country to produce new antibiotics for treating cancer, diabetes and inflammatory and infectious diseases.

The agreement on the project was signed between nine academic institutes with NIPL Research and Development Ltd (NRDL) of Nicolas Piramal as an industrial partner, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal anounnced at a press conference.

The project envisages collection of microbes from different ecological nitches-- such as Eastern and Western Ghats, mangrove areas, marine isolates, river sediments, effluent treatment plants and hot springs of Himachal Pradesh-- screening them for biomolecules and then producing new antibiotics.

It is the first project in the country in which industry and academia will work together to screen such a large number of bacterial isolates.

Of the total Project cost, the Department of Science and Technology will contribute Rs 17.98 crore and NRDL Rs 6.88 crore.

In phase 1, which will last five years, different academic institutes will isolate organisms specific to diverse ecological nitches.

For each sample, isolation of bacteria will be carried out on 30 different growth media.

The effort will generate about 7,000 isolates a month, which will be regularly sent to NRDL for screening for anti-cancer, anti-infective, anti-diabetes and anti-inflammation properties.

If specific therapeutic properties are found in the molecules, then the novel molecules will be passed on to the drug development phase.

A separate microbial repository is being set up at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) Pune, to maintain the 200,000 isolates generated under the project.

The information on microbes will be stored in a new mega computer, Mr Sibal said.

Besides NCS, the participating academic institutes are M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, National Institute of Oceanography, Panjim, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi, Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development, Imphal, Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and University of Delhi, South Campus.

Nicolas Piramal laboratory already has a repository of 50,000 microbes and 8,000 plants which have led to 14 new chemical entities.

UNI YJ RL AS1718

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