IIT Alumni Council announces MegaTx – an initiative to create end-to-end indigenous BioTherapeutics ecosystem targeting safe and effective treatments for Covid 19

New Delhi: IIT Alumni Council announces the MegaTx initiative to identify,
optimise and indigenously manufacture biotherapeutics for the treatment of C19. The
Council has proposed a two stage process. The expeditious pathway will be using
antibodies harvested from human plasma collected through blood donation camps that
seek donors who have recovered from C19. The subsequent stage involves identification
and characterisation of identified neutralising antibodies for mass production using
recombinant DNA technology: i.e. to manufacture and purify the antibodies from stable,
high expressing recombinant cell lines.
The convalescent plasma therapy proposed at the NSCI Dome is the first step towards
identifying and characterizing of antibodies for the prevention and treatment of C19.
The plan is to identify and characterize the antibodies for the treatment of C19 and to
manufacture the same in adequate quantity using recombinant mammalian cell lines
to stably express them.

“ The C19 Task Force of IIT Alumni Council had accepted the challenge to develop
indigenous biotherapeutics in India to help save lives of those adversely affected by
C19. We started off initially with the Platinae Open Source Stack which catalysed
successful clinical trials on plasma therapy. We are now taking a giant step and the
MegaTx initiative will address the challenge of indigenously producing the required
BioTherapeutics cost effectively and administering them safely . This scale of
biotherapeutic manufacturing has not been attempted in India.” said Ravi Sharma,
President and Chief Volunteer of the IIT Alumni Council.
“In order to meet the immediate need to save lives of critical patients, we are proposing
to harvest antibodies from blood donated by recovered C19 patients. Each donor can
contribute around 25 ml weekly or one unit of blood roughly every three months safely.
The task at hand thus is to create the infrastructure to process around 50,000 litres of
blood every month to extract relevant immunoglobins for intravenous administration.
Convalescent plasma therapy is primarily suited for small patient populations; not
something that is easily scalable for mass deployment. Therefore, investment in highly
productive recombinant production systems is a must” added Dr Arindam Bose, a IIT
Alumnus, Chairperson of Therapeutics Group of the C19 Task Force and a well-known
expert in the area of BioTherapeutics product development and manufacturing. His
biodata is appended to this press release.
“I have spent a significant part of my career helping build manufacturing plants for the
production of blood plasma derived products. There is a need to use plasma derived
immunoglobins in the short term by using existing industry capacity and to rapidly
move to monoclonal antibodies (MAB) by either hiring or setting up biotechnology
plants for the mass manufacture of the identified and characterised antibodies. Since
India does not permit paid donors or commercial trade in blood products, it is very
challenging to create a sustainable ecosystem based on human harvesting of
antibodies alone,” added Ashish Chitnis, an IIT Alumnus and Project Lead for a leading
global company in the plasma derivatives business. His biodata is appended to this
press release.
“NSCI Dome, a facility used hitherto for rock shows and music concerts was
transformed within a space of 5 days into the first jumbo facility outside of a hospital
environment used to treat Covid patients . With the help of IIT Alumni Council we used
technology to overcome shortage of healthcare professionals needed to treat the
increasing number of patients in Worli which was one of India’s first red zones. We have
innovated right from the start , used AI , modularized remotely controlled ICU’s and
collected valuable data in doing so . We have treated over 1700 people inclusive of
cancer patients , pregnant women , those above 60 yrs. and with co-morbidities with an
impressive recovery rate of 74% at the dome . We have so far discharged over 1450
people with an extremely low mortality rate ( <.001% ). I am extremely excited that we
shall soon start convalescent plasma therapy at NSCI Dome to fine tune the Mega TX
treatment protocol” Said Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, Chairman of the Doctors Group of the
IIT Alumni Council and In-charge of the NSCI Dome Covid Facility in Mumbai. His
biodata is appended to this press release.

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