IIT Kanpur signs breakthrough MOA with Laurus Labs for novel gene therapy assets

This collaboration marks a paradigm shift with regards to innovation and advancement in the field of bioengineering in India

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Prof. Abhay Karandikar (left), Director IITK, and Dr. Satyanarayana Chava (right), CEO of Laurus Labs, during the signing of MOA for transfer of gene therapy assets.
New Delhi: In a historic milestone, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Laurus Labs to introduce groundbreaking gene therapy assets to the market.
This collaboration marks a paradigm shift with regards to innovation and advancement in the field of bioengineering in India, with this unprecedented industry-first investment in a faculty research group.
In accordance with the MOA, IIT Kanpur will transfer several gene therapy assets through in-licensing to Laurus Labs, who will provide a research grant to facilitate their progression through pre-clinical development. Laurus Labs will also fund the necessary clinical trials and spearhead the launch of these cutting-edge products not only in India but also in emerging markets. In addition, Laurus Labs will establish a state-of-the-art Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility at IIT Kanpur’s Techno Park, bolstering the production capabilities of gene therapy products. They will actively engage in the Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) business for cell and gene therapy, leveraging the capabilities of the GMP facility.
IIT Kanpur’s Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering (BSBE) is home to some of the finest scientists of India working on select human health conditions using an interdisciplinary approach, including gene therapy. Researchers from the BSBE Dept. have been spearheading development of innovative gene therapy strategies for monogenic human diseases and cancers, utilizing molecular, cellular, and preclinical models. They have developed some path-breaking gene therapy assets along with delivery technologies using Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) vectors. Specifically, the Molecular Genetics and Therapeutics lab in the BSBE department is leading efforts to address unmet clinical needs by combining expertise in the biology of viruses, particularly AAV, with translational science, with the aim to provide cost-effective and indigenous solutions for patients with inherited disorders.
The AAV-based vectors, which have emerged as an important component of gene therapy in humans, have found greater importance in recent studies. Under the Molecular Genetics and Therapeutics Lab of the BSBE Department at IIT Kanpur, research has been carried out on Gene Therapy for Retinal degeneration due to Leber congenital amarousis, Hemophilia and Muscular dystrophy. Extensive intellectual property (IP) has been built around these products developed by the department.
Commenting of the development, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director of IIT Kanpur said, “This is a big moment for us at IIT Kanpur when we are partnering with a leading pharma company Laurus Labs for developing novel drugs based on path-breaking research in gene therapy at IIT Kanpur. With setting up of the Gangwal School of Medical Sciences and Technology, we are committed to transformative research in affordable healthcare including novel drug discovery, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, medical devices and implants. I am confident that in the years to come, this partnership with Laurus Labs will enable affordable treatment to some of the difficult to treat disorders. This also further strengthens the achievability of an industry-academia collaboration towards Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
Echoing the sentiment, Dr. Satyanarayana Chava, CEO of Laurus Labs said, “We are very excited to partner with IIT Kanpur to bring novel gene therapy products to patients in India and other markets at an affordable pricing. This collaboration exhibits our commitment towards Cell and Gene therapy (CGT) space. This partnership also provides a unique model for industry–academia collaboration and how we can leverage strengths from both the sections for the benefit of patients. IITK has a proven record of being a flag bearer for advancing research in India and this collaboration takes it to the next level.”
This groundbreaking partnership between IIT Kanpur and Laurus Labs will on one hand, establish IIT Kanpur’s pioneering role in furthering gene therapy research; while on the other, would enhance Laurus Labs’ presence as a leading company in the promising Cell and Gene Therapy space. The innovative therapies under the MOA are currently not available in the Indian and emerging markets, and this collaboration aims to make these breakthrough treatments accessible to patients at an affordable price point. This marks an unprecedented uptick in Industry-academia collaboration in the area of bioengineering in India.