The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology setup in 1986 has laid emphasis on promotion of excellence and innovation for discovery, early and late stage translational research in the areas of agriculture, affordable healthcare & medical technology, food & nutritional security, animal biotechnology, environmental safety, clean energy & bio-fuel, bio-manufacturing, etc. This article highlights current major achievements and existing programms of biotechnology in India which comes under control of DBT, India.
Legislations passed in current year
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill: The Lok Sabha has Passed “The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill” in January 2019. The Bill has been formulated for the regulation of the use and application of DNA technology with the aim to establish the identity of certain category of persons including the victims, offenders, suspects, under trials, missing persons and unknown deceased persons and provides provision for establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board (DRB).
National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research: The DBT jointly with ICMR has formulated and revised National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research. As per the recommendation of the inter-ministerial meeting, “National Guidelines for Stem Cell Therapy” is also being formulated jointly with ICMR and other stakeholders.
TEACHING PROGRAMMES Supported by DBT
( i ) Postgraduate Teaching Programmes (M.Sc./M.Tech./M.VSc.)
A total of 72 courses are being offered under this programme. The location of universities/ institutes offering M.Sc./ M.Tech/M.VSc. teaching programmes in biotechnology in country with DBT support is depicted in Map. DBTsupported postgraduate teaching programme in biotechnology continues to selecting best students and impart quality education with intensive hands on training. To ensure admission of quality students,selection is made through an All India Common Entrance Test conducted by JNU, Joint Entrance Test conducted by IIT and national test conducted by other universities. All selected candidates are offered studentships. During the year 2018-19, five new PG proposals were considered by DBT-HRD Task Force. One PG teaching proposal in area Medical Biotechnology was recommended for support.
(ii) Skill Development Programme in Biotechnology:
This program has beendesigned for providing skill training under four categories:
(i) Skill training for students
(ii) Technician training
(iii) Faculty training and
(iv) Entrepreneurship training.
Expert committee on skill Vigyan recommended the proposals of six states for support. Department has approved the proposal of five States in 2018-19.
(iii) Star College Scheme:
Star College Scheme was initiated by DBT to support UG colleges and university departments offering undergraduate education to improve science teaching. At present, 20 colleges under Rural category and 96 under Urban category have been supported under this Scheme. So far Department has received 710 proposal and supported 189 colleges under Star College Scheme since 2008-2018.
NATIONAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMMES
( i ) DBT Junior Research Fellowship (DBT- JRF) Programme:
Department is providing fellowships to biotechnology students for pursuing doctoral research in universities and / or research institutions in the country. The programme is being coordinated by BCIL, New Delhi. During the year, a total 7385 applications were received, 6217 students appeared for the online exam and 293 students selected under category- I and 116 students in Category-II. A total of 829 ongoing students and 113 newly joined students are availing Fellowship under DBT-JRF program in 2018-19.
( i i ) DBT Research Associateship (DBT- RA) Programme:
During the year 2018-19, in response to two advertisements, a total 864 applications were received and 98 candidates were selected for award of DBT-RA fellowship. A total number of 157 RAs are being supported during 2018-19.
( i i i ) Bioinformatics National Certification (BINC)Exam:
This year, 1037 applications have been received and total 600 students appeared in exam for Paper I. 28 students have qualified the Paper I and appeared in Paper II and Paper III. The BINC exam was conducted at 12 places in the country and 17 students could qualify the BINC 2018. The total number of ongoing students is 20.
DBT is successfully running international collaborative programmes with a number of countries and philanthropic organisations in different areas of Biotechnology. This year, DBT has signed a Programme of Cooperation (PoC) with Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova), Sweden.
DBT – Energy Biosciences Overseas Fellowships:
During 2018-19 four overseas fellows have availed this fellowship.
Indo-U.S. Genome Engineering/Editing Technologies Initiative (GETin) Overseas Fellowship:
The objective of program is to provide opportunity to Indian students and scientists to gain exposure and access to world class research facilities in leading US institutions, capacity building in the frontline area of Genome Engineering/EditingTechnologies and building long-term R&D linkages and collaborations with US institutions/ researchers. During the year 2017-18, 5 Indian students and 5 Scientists have successfully completed the fellowships and during the current year, 5 Student Internships, 5 Overseas Fellowships and 3 Visiting Fellowships have been awarded.
DBT-Heidelberg Graduate Program on Big Data Research:
Department has implemented joint graduate programme on Big Data Research with Heidelberg University, Germany for human resources development. The programme has three components (i) 2-3 months short term summer training for 20 master students per year (ii) Joint PhD support for 10 students per year (ii) Associate young Researcher Visiting program for 4 scholars per year.
DBT TRAINING PROGRAMMES
( i ) Short Term Training Programme for Mid-career Scientists and UG & PG Teachers: Department is supporting short term training program of 2-3 weeks duration for 20-25 participants for hands on exposure in emerging areas for mid career scientists and UG & PG teachers involved in Life Science and Biotechnology education and research. During the year, 7 programmes were selected by Department for support.
( i i ) Biotech Industrial Training Programme:
Department of Biotechnology is supporting Biotech Industrial Training Programme (BITP) for providing hands-on training for six months to fresh B.E./B.Tech./M.Sc./M.Tech.biotechnology students. The programme is being coordinated by Biotech Consortium India Ltd., New Delhi. During the year, total 2211 applications were received, out of which 1726 candidates appeared in online test, 1135 candidates were shortlisted for second round of interview. Based on interview of 1135 candidates, 521 candidates were finally selected for industrial training. Total 114 companies were selected for imparting training. Total 362 candidates have placed in industries for training in 2018-19. Department is providing stipend of Rs.10,000/month to all selected candidates for six months period and bench fee of Rs. 50,000 to trainercompanies. Department has developed online feedback system for obtaining monthly feedback from trainees and trainer companies.
( i ) Tata Innovation Fellowship:
The Department initiated the TATA Innovation Fellowship scheme in 2006 to recognize and reward scientists upto 55 years with outstanding track record in biological sciences. Each awardee receives a fellowship @ Rs. 25,000/- per month in addition to regular salary and a contingency grant of Rs. 6.00 lakhs
per annum. The duration of the fellowship is initially for three years which can be extended further by two years on a fresh appraisal. From its inception, 57 scientists have been awarded the fellowship till March 31, 2018. Total 5 fellowship awarded during 2018-19
( i i ) Bioenergy-Awards for Cutting Edge Research
(B- ACER): Internships/ Fellowships at respective U.S. Universities. So far 17 Interns and 13 Fellows have been benefited from this Program including training for 7 Interns and 3 Fellows during 2019.
( i i i ) Indian Biological Engineering Competition (iBEC) PRE- iGEM Competition: was launched in 2016
by Department in order to select and support best Indian student teams to participate in international contest iGEM competition (International Genetic Engineered Machine) which is held every year in Boston, USA. So far, Department has supported 5 team (25) team from various institute like IITs, IISER, IISc and Public/Private Colleges/Universities. In February, 2018, Pre-iGEM (iBEC) competition was announced by Department and in response, a total of 19 proposals
were received and 5 teams of total 25 students were selected for consumable, registration and travel of INR
10 lakhs/ team to travel to Boston, USA to participate in iGEM 2018 held in October, 2018.
(iv) Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA): The awards are conferred to scientists below the 35 years of age subject to certain relaxations in cases of women, OBC, SC/ST and physically challenged. Scientists on a soft positions are also eligible to apply. The award carries a fellowship of Rs.1.00 Lakh/annum for candidates who are in
permanent faculty position and Rs.75000/- per month for those candidates who do not have a regular faculty position along with a project grant to pursue their research. In the last five years, DBT has awarded fifty two young scientists under this scheme. During the year, 9 candidates were selected for the award.
(v) National Bioscience Award for Career
Development: National Bioscience Award for Career Development is conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions of scientists below 45 years of age. A maximum of 10 awards are conferred every year. Each Award carries a cash prize of Rs 2.00 lakh, a citation and trophy along with project research grant of Rs 15.00 lakhs (Rs.5.00 lakhs/year) for a period of 3 years. During 2017-18 & 2018-19 a total of 15 awardees were selected.
(vi ) National Women Bioscientist Award: The Department recognizes the contributions of senior and young women scientists in the country who are working in the areas of biology and biotechnology. Each award carries a cash prize of
Rs 1.00 lakh with citation and a gold medal and Research Grant of Rs 5.00 lakhs per annum for a period of 5 years. Two scientists under senior category and four scientists under junior category were selected for 2017-18 & 2018-19).
(vi i) Biotech Product, Process Development and Commercialization Award:
The aim of this award is to recognize scientists/innovators/entrepreneurs/institutions/companies both in public as well as private sector who are working towards development and commercialization of process/technology/product in the areas of modern biology and biotechnology. Upto five awards are given every year. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs. 2.00 lakh along with a citation and trophy, however, if the product is commercialized and has much higher utility, cash award of Rs.5.00 lakh is given to the awardee. The award is given in an individual category as well as under institutional category. During the year, three awards with a cash prize of Rs.2.00 lakhs each were conferred on Technology Day i.e., on 11th May, 2018 by Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
(viii) Biotechnology Social Development Awards-2017-18:
The Department has conferred Biotechnology Social Development Award for 2017-18 to M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai in organisation catogory for the landmark achievement of MSSRF in implementation of programmes and projects in 10 villages in Wayanad district of Kerala since 1997 which has now spread in more than 80 villages benefitting more then 2200 families.
ix) Distinguished Biotechnology Research Professorship Award: The Department has instituted Distinguished Biotechnology Research Professorship Award Scheme to utilize the expertise of superannuated distinguished scientists, who are still scientifically active and capable of making significant research contribution in biological sciences, biotechnology and related fields.
(x) Young Entrepreneur Scheme-India (Yes-India) Programme: ABLE organizes the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Students Team (BEST); an annual flagship program supported by the Department of Biotechnology. The mandate and goal of the program is to encourage the budding entrepreneurship talents of college students.
PROGRAMS FOR POPULARIZATION & PROMOTION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
(i) DBT-CTEP Program:
To popularize Biotechnology activities in India, the Department provides financial assistance towards organizing Conference, Seminar, Symposium, Workshop and Travel support to the researchers for presenting their papers in the conferences which are being organised outside the country. It also extends support for organising DBT stalls in international and national exhibitions.
(ii) India International Science Festival 2018 (IISF 2018):
The Department in association with Department of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences organized India International Science Festival from 5th to 8th October, 2018 at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The 4th India International Science Festival 2018 was inaugurated by the Hon’ble president of India President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind at a function held at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan, Lucknow.
( i i i ) Participation in BIO International Convention
2018: The participation of Team India at BIO 2018 in Boston was supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology through the Department of Biotechnology. The Indian team had about 90 members and included officials and scientists from Central and the State Government departments and agencies. Besides the DBT and BIRAC, CSIR participated for the first time. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states also put up their stalls. 18 start-ups and 2 companies exhibited.
DBT IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
This section detailed application of biotechnology tools and techniques in agriculture and allied areas including crops, livestock and fisheries. In general, the advanced molecular biological techniques, omics, genomic based selection and /or development of molecular markers for selection of improved breeds for different traits, genetic engineering are employed. The department provides support for various schemes such as R&D, translational research, product development and its validation and demonstration in collaboration with universities, research institutions and non-profit research organization as well as private sector. Collaboration with ICAR, ICMR, CSIR, DST and DoD and their institutions is integral part of implementation. The mandate of Agriculture Biotechnology program is knowledge generation, technology and product development for productivity gains, enhanced nutrition and ensuring quality, resistance to drought salinity, high temperature, resistance to pests and diseases, input use efficiency, climate resilience and bio-safety.
Table: Crops released during this year.
Overall objective of Animal Biotechnology program is to enhance livestock production and productivity and improve animal health through biotechnological approaches. The broad areas of research are cattle genomics, reproduction, transgenics, cloning, animal nutrition, animal by-products, animal vaccines diagnostics and therapeutics.
AQUACULTURE AND MARINE BIOTECHNOLOGY
S. No. Details of scientific leads under aquaculture and marine biotechnology programme
1. Establishsing Tachyplesin as anti-mycobacterial peptide
2. Development of conjugation strategy for Tachyplesin-drug conjugate for anti-cancer drug delivery
3. LAMP based kit for rapid and sensitive detection of pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus in direct seafood samples
4. Colony hybridization for accurate enumeration of both total and pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus
5. Standardized protocol for L. rohita muscle tissue for various pH range and obtained 657 unique protein
6. Standardized protocol for all the 17 tissues for pH 8 sample buffer
7. Triploidy induction in rainbow trout by heat shock
8. Pelleted diets containing seeds and leaves of Achyranthes aspera have been formulated for carp and magur.
9. Two new prototypes of column based filtration unit designed for extraction and purification of high value pigment Phycocyanin from Spirulina platensis.10. A low-cost growth medium developed for reducing the cost of biomass production.
11. A new water filtration device designed and tested for chlorine/ ozone/UV treatment free water decontamination.
The water decontaminated through this device is used for Spirulina biomass production.
12. New prototype of portable Spirulina culture unit with integrated tubular component is designed.
13. New cell lines were developed from Mozambique tilapia and cold-water fish, Oncorhynchus mykiss.
14. New strain of WSSV was isolated and developed PCR protocol to differentiate old and new strains of WSSV
15. An antiviral compound against WSSV from plant was isolated and identified.
16. LFIA kit for WSSV, Mr NV and IMNV.
17. Bacterial cellulose based Paper points for use in endodontics.
18. Identified the chemical structures of four novel antimalarials derived from marine organisms.
BIOENERGY, BIORESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
Department of Biotechnology has been implementing programs on RD & D for Biofuel technology development recognizing the need for clean and renewable energy for transportation. Government of India has announced new policy on Biofuels and an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel is proposed by 2030. Department has made significant R&D efforts in this direction, major focus has been on development of 2nd Generation Biofuels. Overall aim of DBT is to make available cost effective biofuel technology by improving feedstock/developing new feedstock, improving biofuel production technologies, developing enzymes/ microorganisms for improved yield of biofuel and developing value added products from by-products etc. During the year 2018, focus has been on demonstration of technologies to convert Waste into Energy and value added products. Based on novel technologies to convert Municipal solid waste (organic fraction) into energy, 3 demonstration plants are being commissioned at Goa, Hyderbad and Mumbai. Indigenous cellulytic enyme with good activity required for conversion of biomass to ethanol has been successfully scaled up at 5000 L fermenter. A major project for Barapullah Sewage Treatment Technology demonstration will be commissioned using Technology developed at DBTICT Centre for capacity of 1 Million Litres /Day.
Mission Innovation is a major global initiative launched during Paris Agreement in Nov. 2015 with the objective to accelerate innovation in Clean Energy to make it affordable and accessible for all. Energy Bioscience Division has been promoting innovative research in Biofuel area through Centre of Excellence, Extramural projects and Fellowship schemes. Capabilities developed in Systems and Synthetic Biology with demonstrated laboratory work. Department is supporting four DBT-Bioenergy Centres with specific goals and targets in accordance with the National Biofuel Policy. Recently in September 2018, 5th Bioenergy Centre has been set up at TERI with 3 other partner institutions (IITG, IARI and Transtech Green Power Private Limited) which would focus on integrated production of advanced Biofuels and Bio-commodities.
Bioenergy at a glance in year 2018-19
• Based on 2G Ethanol technology developed by DBTICT Bioenergy Centre, a plant of 100 KLD ethanol capacity will be set up at Bhatinda. Trials run and technology transfer under progress.
• Indigenous Cellulytic Enzyme has been developed and tested with industry. Scale up under process.
• India’s first continuous Steam Explosion pilot plant & Extractor system for pre-treatment of Biomass has been installed at DBT-IOC Center Faridabad.
• Three demonstration plants are being set up to convert Municipal Solid Waste into Energy with suitable collaborating partner.
• Sewage water treatment with generation of energy demonstrated using microalgae photo bioreactor based technology. A demo plant is being commissioned at BPCL Colony
• Based on Carbon Capture Technology a sewage treatment plant of capacity 1 Million Liquid per day will be set up at Barapullah, New Delhi.
Environmental Biotechnology programme is one of the areas where impetus is on waste management and environmental improvement. Focus has been on development of microbial technologies for environmental improvement, development of treatment process of industrial effluent, bioremediation of xenobiotic compounds, etc. Scanning of the microbial diversity of various environments and deciphering their genetic information was also carried out with the aim of isolating microorganisms that could be in bioremediation processes.
Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN):
Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN) has been launched as a single window gateway to access distributed bioresource database available in the country to offer spatial and non-spatial services on diverse domains of bio-resources and biodiversity. It is a de-centralized bio-resource database based on distributed architecture. It works on the principle of spatial data infrastructure wherein distributed databases available across the country are accessed through one single window gateway. It provides spatial datasets on biodiversity from IIRS (ISRO) and species datasets from University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore as core data nodes of IBIN.
National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP):
Production of quality planting material National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP) has been established by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India as per the Gazette of India Notification under the Seeds Act 1966. The major objective of NCS-TCP is to facilitate production and distribution quality planting materials. To achieve the above objectives, tissue culture companies are given recognition on the basis of infrastructure and implementation of quality management system. Apart from recognition of tissue culture companies, test laboratories have also accredited under this program. After recognition, tissue culture companies become eligible to get their tissue culture raised plants tested and certified by these Accredited Test Laboratories (ATLs). Two Referral Centers have also been identified for testing of disputed samples, training etc.
HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL
Leveraging its focus on affordable healthcare for all, the Department is working towards prevention, detection and treatment of various diseases. The Department has funded numerous projects for developing new affordable health care interventions for prevention and treatment of diseases, creating healthcare delivery systems and developing important products of high medicinal value. The emphasis of the Department is on development of vaccines; diagnostics; affordable devices to detect and manage diseases as well as patient care and generating solutions for diseases; infectious disease biology; chronic disease biology; cancer biology; neuroscience; human genetics and genome analysis; maternal and child health; public health and nutrition; stem cells and regenerative medicine. DBT has been a front runner in reaching low cost vaccines to people and has been instrumental in levitating India to become a leader in vaccine development and manufacturing.
International Cancer Genome Consortium
With the objective of obtaining a comprehensive description of the genetic basis of human cancer, a multi-country project – called the “International Cancer Genome Consortium Project” – has been initiated. Specifically, the project aims to identify and characterize all the sites of genomic alteration associated at significant frequency with all major types of cancers.
STEM CELLS AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE
Keeping in view the therapeutic potential of these cells, the Department continues to support research and training in this important area of Medical Biotechnology. The overall aim is to promote basic, early and late translational research in the area of stem cell and regenerative medicine. Broadly the focus is on induced pluripotent stem cells; hematopoietic stem cells; mesenchymal stem cells and human embryonic stem cells. Scientific strategies includes basic biology of all adult stem cells, early and late translational research, developing gene editing technology for possible therapeutic applications, creation of animal models for various human diseases and training programs on various component of stem cells and regenerative medicine. In addition, the Department has also set up infrastructure at identified institutions to promote research in this area. The Department has set up an institute, ‘The Institute for Stem Cell Science & Regenerative Medicine’, (Instem) at Bengaluru with Centre for Stem Cell Research (CSCR) as its translational unit at CMC, Vellore, with the intention of using stem cell science for understanding human diseases and development of stem cell-based therapies. A Centre of Excellence has been supported at AIIMS, New Delhi with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Facility for manufacturing stem cells of clinical grade for patient use.
VACCINE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Leads in Vaccine Development:
• Malaria Vaccine: Vaccine for falciparum malaria is under toxicology assessment (JAIVAC 2) and vaccine for vivax malaria has completed phase I trial (JAIVAC1).
• Dengue Vaccine: The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) drug major Sun Pharma are partnering to use the recombinant EDIII- based sub-unit dengue vaccine candidate to develop an injectible vaccine that protects against all four dengue strains are endemic to India. The team is presently optimizing the production process and are expected to initiate clinical trial in the near future. Also a live attenuated Dengue Vaccine candidate licensed from NIH is being supported under the National Biopharma Mission. Development of Chikungunya, Influenza, and Cholera vaccine candidates are also being supported.
NATIONAL BIOPHARMA MISSION
The National Biopharma Mission was formally launched by Hon’ble Minister for Science & Technology on 30th June, 2017 and the legal agreement with World Bank for flexible financing arrangements for this Mission of DBT was executed on April 24, 2018. The Mission aims to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products for combating public health concerns.It would strengthen translational capability of academic researchers; empower bio-entrepreneurs and SMEs by decreasing the cost and risk during early stages of product development and also elevate the innovation quotient of the industry.
GLUE GRANT SCHEME
Glue Grant scheme was initiated aiming to link Basic, Clinical and Public Health Research Departments in an inter-institutional
linkage(s) leading to long-term partnership programs to bridge the gap between laboratory/field research and its application to clinical and policy outcomes with a potential for translational research and technological innovation and capacity building efforts. During the second phase, three projects have been implemented under thus scheme.
DBT has been engaged in advancing research and promoting innovation to address various issues related to health, energy, agriculture and environment through nanotechnology interventions. Major thrust areas include development of novel formulation of existing drugs to enhance their efficacy, smart nano-materials for tissue and cellular organelle specific delivery vehicles and tissue engineering, new therapeutics for important chronic and infectious diseases, sensors for detection of disease biomarkers. Emphasis has also been given to promote Regulatory Science research and help commercialization of Nano-enabled products.
A new tannery solid waste management approach was developed by converting the limed fleshings into sound absorbing nanofibers. The nanofibers showed viability of around 95 % and were also found support adhesion and spreading of fibroblasts.
Novel Herbal Mosquito Repellent using Nanofibers with enhanced surface-to-volume ratio, high porosity was developed. The developed patch provided controlled release of essential oils for longer period of time for indoor and outdoor protection of day and night from mosquitoes. The technology was transferred to SJK Pharmacy, Rohtakon.
At IISc Bangalore, researchers have developed a high throughput microfluidic device with nano-scale liquid-air interfaces to investigate the mechanical response of erythrocytes under diabetic conditions IIT Guwahati has developed a micro-architecture of bone using silk-bioceramics based composites through conventional scaffolding and bio-fabrication. They have Nano functionalised silk fibbers with copper doped bioactive glass and used it as reinforcements to impart osteo-inductivity.
Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence have the potential to accelerate the access, affordability and quality of healthcare within the country. DBT has initiated a new Mission Program on “Artificial Intelligence application for Affordable and Accessible Healthcare- Big Data and Genomics”. During the year, the related stakeholders met to collectively define the roadmap for DBT to undertake activities in AI and Big Data. Major projects like Genome India: Cataloguing the genetic variation in Indians, Earth Bio-genome on sequencing, analyzing, annotating and interpreting 1000 medicinal plants in India and some pilot studies for taking prototypes for diagnosis such as early screening and diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, screening of breast cancer and cardiovascular diagnosis are being discussed.
During the year, more than 150 R&D projects were supported. R&D support to the basic biology research resulted into more
than eighty research publications and two patents.
Basic Research is a core strength in all disciplines of life sciences to address various issues in Modern Biology. Integration of recombinant technology and process design, as well as in-silico modelling and process systems engineering for efficient Bio-processes development and manipulation of Bio-systems through metabolic engineering techniques is being attempted to provide novel enzymes, pathways and cells. Further, the department has emphasised on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Big Data, Nanobiotechnology and Genome Editing Technologies. These emerging and predicted future biotechnologies which are
impacting on the life sciences speedily. These tools and technologies have far-reaching applications which impinge on every aspect of human existence. Highlights of scientific outcome during the year are as follows:
• Establishment of Large Scale Polymer particle laboratory at National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi
• Identification of a new cellular role for D-amino acyltRNAdeacylase (DTD) in clearing glycine mischarged on tRNA(Ala)
• First report of SATB1 and SATB2 interaction and regulation of each other in reciprocal manner
• Identification of Vgl1 as an essential factor for heterochromatin integrity
• Three isoforms of Rab5 are regulated by three different transcription factors are demonstrated for the first time
• Distinction between polyadenylation in bacteria and eukaryotes is demonstrated
• Three plasmids are designed for overexpression of Proteins
DeLCON (DBT’s e-library Consortium)
DBT’s Electronic Library Consortium (DeLCON) is a topical endeavor for providing access to scholarly electronic resources including full-text and bibliographic databases in all the life science disciplines to the DBT Institutional community across the country. At present, the total members of DeLCON Consortium are 33 Institution, comprising of DBT Institutions and some institutions and universities across the states in North Eastern India. DeLCON provides current as well as archival access to more than 1000+ core peerreviewed biology and biotechnology journals and a bibliographic database (SCOPUS) in different disciplines from 22 overseas publishers and aggregators.
RESEARCH RESOURCES, SERVICE FACILITIES AND PLATFORMS (RRSFP)
The RRSFP program is to promote, upgrade and for establishment of new biotech facilities/infrastructure viz. animal house; gene banks; repositories for microbes, plants, model organisms and infectious organisms; towards augmentation of research activities of scientific community at regional, national and international level. Furthermore, it is aimed to promote growth of life science and biotechnology in the university system and linking research to education at every opportunity through creation/reengineering/remodeling/up-gradation of life science departments in central/state universities.
The Department of Biotechnology has launched its research resources and facilities supported across the country, through
a portal ‘Scientific Infrastructure Access for Harnessing Academia University Research Joint Collaboration, (SAHAJ)’. Each Autonomous Institute and DBT supported Infrastructure programmes will provide and share its equipment and infrastructure to Research Institutes, Universities, Colleges and Start -ups /Entrepreneurs. Their website will carry infrastructure facility usage forms with well defined usage charges, and terms and conditions.
The mandate of the program is to promote, upgrade and establish new biotech facilities/infrastructure viz. Animal house, gene banks, repositories for microbes, plants, model organisms and infectious organisms; towards augmentation of research activities of scientific community at regional, national and international level. Further, the program is designed to promote growth of Life Science and Biotechnology in the university system and linking research to education at every opportunity through creation/reengineering/ re-modeling/up-gradation of life science departments in central/state universities. The outcome of the research activities supported for strengthening the research infrastructure in Universities and Institutions are detailed below:
“Flow Cytometry and Imaging Facility” at ILS Bhubaneswar has been supported for Sorting Flow Cytometer, Confocal Microscopy and HTS imager.
The National Cryoelectron Microscopy Facility has been installed at Bangalore Biocluster (B-Life) and officially inaugurated by Prof. CNR Rao and Dr. Richard Henderson (Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 2017) on 25th January, 2018.
Advanced Technology Platform Centre, Regional Centre for Biotechnology
The Advanced Technology Platforms Centre (ATPC) was conceived with the aim of providing access to cutting-edge technologies to researchers across India. Thus far, the Flow Cytometry Facility, Protein Expression and Purification Facility, Mass Spectrometry Facility, Molecular Interactions Facility and Optical Microscopy have been established at this centre. Facilities of ATPC are being utilized by the Scientists from THSTI, Faridabad; ICGEB, New Delhi; HAU; Vyome Biosciences, AIIMS, New Delhi; NII, New Delhi; NIPGR, New Delhi; University of Delhi; NBRC, Manesar; and IARI, New Delhi.
National Mouse Resource (NaMoR)
The Department has established a National facility for Mouse Resource & Research at NCBS & inStem, Bangalore with an aim to create a national state-of the-art rodent facility including transgenic and knockout mouse models of human disease.
Access to Macromolecular Crystallography
Beamlines at ESRF, FranceA Beamline-14 Program Coordination Unit (DBT-BM14-PCU) at Regional centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad has been supported by the Department for providing access to Indian scientific community to synchrotron X-ray Beam line (BM14) in Grenoble, France.
MAKE-IN-INDIA AND STARTUP INDIA
The DBT alongwith BIRAC is playing a crucial role in the implementation and delivery of the flagship programs of the Government of India, such as ‘Make-in-India’ and ‘Startup India’. DBT recognizes the necessity for entrepreneurship development among the youth in the country and hence has taken initiatives to build, support and promote Indian biotech ecosystem in healthcare, agriculture and industrial biotechnology.
The department BIRAC endeavors to scale up the number of Startups in the sector by nurturing approximately 300-500 new Startups each year to have around 2,000 Startups by 2020 41 Bioincubators have been setup across India with world class facilities.
1st International Incubator- Clean Energy International Incubator has been set up under Mission Innovation by DBT & BIRAC. Startups from 23 participating EU countries can potentially come & incubate in India and likewise startups from this incubator can go to the partnering countries facilitating access to global opportunities. AcE Fund and SEED fund have been launched to provide capital assistance to start-ups and act as a bridge between promoters’ investment and venture/angel investors. BIRAC Regional Centers-4 regional centres and 4 Bio connect offices have been established.
FIRST (Facilitation of Innovation and Regulations for Start-ups and Innovators) HUB is created at BIRAC to resolve the queries
of start-ups, entrepreneurs, researchers, academicians, incubation centres, SMEs etc. The FIRST HUB has representation from CDSCO, ICMR, DBT, BIS, NIB and BIRAC along with KIHT. It brings stakeholders to a single platform.
Impact of PPP programs: Start-up India and Make-in-India Initiatives (2018-19):
_ No. of technologies/ products commercialised – 14
_ No. of patents filed – 11
_ No. of start-ups & entrepreneurs supported – 87
_ No. of Bioincubators supported – 4
_ Incubation space created – 57,000 sq.ft.
Biotech Science Clusters
Recognising the need for creating an enabling ecosystem for connecting university and academic researchers, national laboratories, incubators, technology management units, industries SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs, the concept of setting-up of Bioclusters across the country was developed as part of the National Biotechnology Development Strategy. Accordingly, four Bioclusters have been established at Faridabad, Bangalore, Kalyani and Pune.
BIOTECHNOLOGY PARKS & INCUBATORS
The Department of Biotechnology has established Biotechnology Parks/Incubators across the country to translate research into products and services by providing necessary infrastructure support. These Biotechnology Parks offer facilities to Scientists, and Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) for technology incubation, technology demonstration and pilot plant studies for accelerated commercial development. The Department so far, has supported 9 Biotechnology Parks in various States. These are:
i) Biotech Park, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh;
ii) Biotechnology Incubation Centre, Hyderabad, Telangana;
iii) Tidco Centre For Life Sciences (TICEL) Biotech Park, Chennai, Tamil Nadu;
iv) The Golden Jubilee Biotech Park For Women, Chennai, Tamil Nadu;
v) Biotech Park Technology Incubation Centre, Guwahati, Assam; vi) Biotechnology Incubation Centre, Cochin, Kerala;
vii) Biotechnology Park, Bangalore, Karnataka;
viii) Industrial Biotechnology Parks (IBTPs), Jammu & Kashmir;
ix) Chhattisgarh Biotech Park, Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
The Government of India is increasingly trying to focus and promote collaborative research to solve a myriad of socio-economic as well as environmental challenges, which will have footprint on generations to come. The Department is implementing many such international collaborative programmes and the highlights of the achievements are as follows:
India-UK Cancer Research Initiative
Programme of Cooperation with Sweden
Programme of Cooperation with Denmark
Programme of Cooperation United States of America
PROMOTING WOMEN SCIENTISTS – SCIENCE FOR WOMEN – WOMEN FOR SCIENCE
Biotechnology Career Advancement and Reorientation Programme (BioCARe): A Mission Programme of the Department for empowering Women Scientists of India There are two categories under which support is provided for a period of 3 years. There is a Research Grant Opportunity (RGO), under which a research grant upto Rs. 60.00 lakhs is provided. Under this category, the women Scientists who are unemployed are provided monthly emoluments ranging from Rs. 50,000/- to 60,000/- p.m. The employed women Scientists in addition to salary get an amount of Rs.10,000/- p.m as an incentive. Under the Early Career Scientists (ECS) category, scientists having experience less than two years post PhD are eligible to apply for research grant of upto Rs. 40.00 lakhs. The unemployed women scientists are provided a monthly emolument of Rs. 50,000/-.
Programmes of Societal Relevance – Rural and SC/ST Population
The Department has been supporting projects for promotion of use of biotechnological processes and tools for the benefit of the society comprising rural, SC/ST and women community. The programme aims to create platform for self-employment generation among the target population by diffusion of proven and field-tested technologies through demonstration, training and extension activities.
The broad focused areas supported under this programme includes agriculture and animal husbandry including fish farming, poultry farming, pig production, goat farming, value added products, floriculture, hybrid seed production, integrated farming system, entrepreneurship development, bio-resource utilization, women and child health, hygiene and nutrition. More than 12,900 rural, SC/ST and women population including youth have been benefited through the implementation of these projects during the year.
PROMOTING BIOTECHNOLOGY IN NORTH EAST REGION
The North East Region (NER) of India is a treasure house of exceptional natural beauty, floral and faunal biodiversity with abundant mineral, water and forest resources. It has been identified as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. Rich bioresources spread across NER’s diverse ecosystems and nurtured by indigenous communities, provide ample opportunities for furthering economic development of the region.
In order to give focused attention for the North Eastern Region, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, has earmarked 10% of its annual budget every year for promoting & strengthening biotechnology activities in the region. Towards this the DBT has also established a North Eastern Biotechnology Programme Management Cell (NER-BPMC). DBT has proactively launched several region-specific programmes through the intervention of modern biology and biotechnology in NER.
These programs are towards flagship R&D programmes, skilling of human resource, establishment of research and training infrastructure with specific network programmes targeting local problems including entrepreneurship development.
Major outcome under the NER programmes of DBT for the year 2018
Personals Trained in NER
_ 325 students trained as JRF/SRF under Twinning Programme
_ 292 students trained as JR/SRF/RAs under 112 Biotech Hubs in NER
_ 34 NER Scientists awarded under Overseas Associateship for training in international laboratories
_ 267 publications in peer-reviewed journals from Twinning, U-Excel and other major Network Projects
_ 280 publications in peer-reviewed journals from 112 Biotech hubs
_ 5 patent applications filed before the Indian Patent Office Technologies developed/licenced/commercialised
_ 3 technologies developed under the U-Excel Scheme
_ 2 technologies developed under the Twinning R&D programme
_ 3 animal vaccines/ diagnostic kits developed under ADMaC project being validated by State animal Husbandry departments in NER
_ Technology developed for breeding of 3 commercially viable fish species in NER, at CoE in Fisheries at College of Fisheries,Tripura. Scaling up with farmers under process.
_ 4 technologies commercialized by DBT-AAU Centre, Jorhat
_ Technology Incubation Centre for Entrepreneurship Development on Mushroom Culture & Farming developed at Bodoland University, Kokrajhar, Assam.
A total of 1663 people have been trained and 48 small scale entrepreneurs groomed.
Autonomous Institutions of DBT
Public Sector Undertakings
Bharat Immunological and Biologicals Corporation Limited:
One of the the public sector units, Bharat Immunological and Biologicals Corporation Limited (BIBCOL) was entrusted with manufacture of Oral Polio Vaccines and with continued support from the Department, played a significant role in polio eradication in our country.
Indian Vaccines Corporation Limited
Indian Vaccines Corporation Limited was incorporated in March 1989 as a Joint Venture Company promoted by Govt. of India (Department of Biotechnology), Pasteur Merieux Serum & Vaccines (PMSV), France and Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited. The company came into existence after a joint venture was signed on 1st February 1989 between Reliance Industries Limited and PMSV.
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council:
In order to promote Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to nurture the emerging biotech enterprises in the country. Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an interface agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprises specially the start-ups and SME’s to undertake the strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
BIRAC provides funding support to entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and Biotech Companies for all stages of the product development value chain from discovery to proof of concept to early and late stage development, taking forward to its validation and scale up, and then right up to pre-commercialization.
REGULATION AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
The programme on Biosafety Research and Regulations emphasizes on the implementation of the provisions of Rules, 1989 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous microorganisms, genetically engineered organisms or cells and products thereof in research and development. The Rules, 1989 delegated the Department to administer the functioning of
i) Institutional Biosafety committees (IBSCs) which operate directly from the premises of the institutions and ensures on-site assessment and monitoring of adherence to the biosafety guidelines with overall oversight of the regulatory process, at the institutional level and
ii) Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) which monitors & reviews all ongoing research projects involving high risk category and confined field experiments and ensure the compliance of biosafety rules & regulations.
During the year, the RCGM evaluated more than 1300 applications from public and private institutions in the areas of agriculture, healthcare and industrial products specifically for authorization to import, export & exchange of high risk group microorganisms and recombinant DNA research (rDNA) related materials including seeds, gene constructs, plasmids, vectors and genetically engineered (GE)/living modified (LM) organisms; to conduct pre-clinical toxicity studies; for evaluation of pre-clinical study reports; to conduct confined field trials on GE crops viz. cotton, corn, rice etc. for generation of biosafety data; and to conduct rDNA research in pharmaceutical & agriculture sectors.
During the year under report, 12 rDNA products were permitted by RCGM for conducting pre-clinical toxicity studies by 8 private/public institutions/companies. Based on the evaluation of pre-clinical study reports, 11 rDNA products were recommended to Drug Controller General of India [DCG(I)] for appropriate phase of human clinical trials.
The Department had communicated Input/output norms for 07 biotechnological products. Comments on export/import of 05 restricted items were also shared with Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to facilitate trade in biotechnology.
The Biotechnology Patent Facilitating Cell (BPFC) provides single window awareness-cum-Patent facilitation to scientists and researchers for filing of Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) and National phase applications on inventions pertaining to Life Sciences and Biotechnology through empaneled IPR firms. During the period under report, 5 new patent applications were filed and 6 Indian patents and one US patent have been granted /out of the applications filed earlier.
Article compiled by Kamal Pratap Singh, Managing Editor, Biotech Express
Note: The information included in this article has been taken from DBT Annual report 2018-19 which was released recently and is available online on DBT, India website. The author has tried to include and show only the most recent and important information, however writer advise readers to see the original report for full information.
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