India is on its way to become one of the most important biotechnology hubs in the world. It is also one of very few countries to have a government department dedicated to biotechnology (DBT), wherein, a Public Sector Under taking like BIR AC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) is endowed with the goal of strengthening and empowering emerging bio-technology companies from ideation to the comer cialization of their products and technologies.
Furthermore, associations among government and private institutions/labs have been increasing and helping the market grow further by encouraging R&D needed for innovation in this sector. However, although there is increased support from the Government, and Public-Private-Partnership; there are still lots of gaps that need to be covered in the areas of funding, and modernization of the regulatory environment.
Coming to the fore, one of the leading innovators in this sector is Dhiti Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, which has quickly established itself as one of the mosttrusted biotechnology companies in India. Dhiti Life Sciences is a part of Oscar Group of Companies. Oscar was founded in 2010 by New Delhi based AIIMS-educated immunologist Dr. Savita Sekhri, and her industrial engineer husband, Mr Anand Sekhri, as an in-vitro diagnostic kits manufacturing company. Oscar quickly gained a foothold in the Indian diagnostic market owing to the superior quality and competitive pricing of its products. Starting with basic pregnancy tests, over time it expanded its offerings to cover rapid tests for many infectious and non-infectious diseases, ELI-SA, serology tests and clinical reagents. Today it has five research and production units in Delhi and Haridwar, with a total daily production capacity of 5 lakhs rapid tests/day.
Initially Oscar would import raw materials, such as recombinant antigens and monoclonal antibodies, which were used in the manufacturing of its diagnostic kits. The ambitious idea of Dhiti Life Sciences was born with the aim to indigenously develop and produce diagnostic grade recombinant antigens and monoclonal antibodies, which could reduce dependence on the import. Today Dhiti Life Sciences has developed and commercialized the largest range of diagnostic grade recombinant antigens and mono-clonal antibodies in India, including, for SARS Cov-2.
Other than developing diagnostic grade bio-molecules, Dhiti Life Sciences is also India's one of the leading Con-tract Research Organizations catering to the needs of private and public labs and organizations. The company has a proven expertise in recombinant protein development, monoclonal antibodies development, immunogenicity studies, and cell based assays, to name a few.
Bringing Innovation with State-of-the-art R&D Lab
With a DSIR approved state-of-the-art R&D lab, Dhiti Life Sciences has been developing and producing robust recombinant antigen, monoclonal antibodies, and in-house PCR kits for diagnostic and research purposes. Several of the monoclonal antibodies and recombinant antigens developed at their facility are in successful production. When it comes to recombinant protein, they have the needed edge and expertise in developing recombinant proteins as vaccine candidates, diagnostic markers, or as therapeutic candidates. Remarkably, the group has unique expertise in developing tag-free recombinant proteins which are often required for immunogenicity and several other studies.
Dhiti Life also has a CPCSEA-approved small animal facility to carry out research on experimental mice, and an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC) registered with RCGM, DBT. Dhiti Life Sciences has twice received prestigious research grants from BIR AC, and both the times it successfully completed all the objectives, and now features on various success stories of BIR AC. “If we talk about our R&D and manufacturing, we are the first and only organization in India with largest range of in-house developed diagnostic grade raw materials and we have been successfully selling them in domestic and international market” highlights Dr. Abhinav Shrestha, Chief Scientist& Director, at Dhiti Life Sciences.
Anand Sekhri, Founder
Making India Self Reliant in Diagnostic Sector
Dhiti Life Sciences has developed and commercialized more than two dozens of monoclonal antibodies and recombinant antigens for the early and accurate detection of pathogens like HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis-C virus, Plasmodium, Dengue, Chikungunya, Syphilis, Leishmania, H. pylori, etc. The latest and most crucial were the much-needed antigens and antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2, the novel Corona virus that has ravaged the globe and our country. These antigens, and antibodies are developed and produced in-house from the scratch, which is a rare accomplishment, especially for such a young and small, fully-privately funded enterprise. Having in-house produced diagnostic grade bio-molecules allows the parent company, Oscar, to timely produce the finished in-vitro diagnostic its in bulk with highest control over their quality.
A technology is not ours, untill it's fully indigenized: Dr Savita Sekhri
Presence of a state-of-the-art biotechnology lab catering the need of diagnostic sector, not only developed a technical know-how in the country, but also created employment for skilled and semi-skilled biotechnology workforce, and definitely saves precious foreign exchange. “Developing the fusion recombinant antigens and monoclonal antibodies against Novel Corona Virus was the cornerstone for being able to respond rapidly to the Covid crisis. And we (Dhiti Life Sciences and Oscar) are proud to be the only organization in India today that is manufacturing and selling 100% indigenously produced diagnostic tests for Covid detection” says PrernaSekhri, who is a strategic advisor of the company.
After all of these very important accomplishments, what’s next for Dhiti? “We are planning to work on industrial grade enzymes for diagnostic use. We are also looking at other exciting technologies such as LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification), and detection of escape mutants of Hepatitis-B virus, and several other projects are also there in the pipeline,” concludes Dr. Abhinav.