Meet Bugworks, India biotech working on innovative AMR products

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a real problem across the global healthcare system. While AMR is observed in infectious agents across different diseases, it now seems to also be being observed in agents causing common yet serious diseases, such as bloodstream infection (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, gonorrhoea and urinary track infections. Before superbugs become resistant to all of the “last resort” antibiotics, innovative biotech companies, such as Bugworks are joining the war of resistance to prevent the spread of this superbug nightmare.

It is our pleasure to announce that Dr V Balasubramanian, President and Co-founder of Bugworks will be joining us at the 15th BioPharma India 2017 to share with us their company’s positioning as well as all the reasons on why you should partner with them. Prior to the conference, we asked Bala several questions to give you a quick preview on what you can learn from him at the conference.

Q: What inspired the founding of Bugworks?

Balasubramanian: The coming together of individuals with highly orthogonal skill sets such as pharma, engineering, mathematics, biophysics, chemistry etc., but with a common purpose and strong passion to address a hugely unmet medical need ie., novel antibiotics to treat serious hospital associated infections caused by Gram-negative Superbugs.

Q: How is Bugworks going to disrupt the pharma industry in India?

Balasubramanian: Drug discovery is a complex, high risk endeavour, which in recent years is incurring sky-high costs, thus being unpalatable for the Indian pharma industry.  Bugworks, with its virtual pharma model has stitched together a state-of-the-art, world-class drug discovery engine, which operates and delivers from a low cost, yet high value base. The key to the success lies in the multi-disciplinary skill base, lean, agile and transparent organization where decision making is very close to the point of origin of data. This affordable innovation will be path breaking for many a company, not just in India but across the world.

Q: What type of company/investors would you like to meet at BioPharma India this year?

Balasubramanian: Knowledgeable investors who understand the long road and high risk inherent to Pharma discovery.

Q: Please give us a quick preview of what you will share with us at the conference

Balasubramanian: BUGWORKS has unlocked a new paradigm to discover novel antibiotics. Through our innovative approaches, we have developed a stealth strategy by which antibiotics can successfully by-pass efflux pumps, which are a key defense barrier present on the bacterial cell envelope. Our current leads target the WHO 2017 Critical, Serious and Concerning infection threats. We are progressing a first-in-class novel chemical entity (NCE) that exhibits potent killing of pan resistant superbugs such as those resistant to colistin, beta-lactams, cephalosporins, carbapenems, fluroquinolones, and difficult to treat pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, K.pneumoniae, E.coli, N. gonorrhoeae, C. difficile, MRSA, VRE etc.

We (I) will present the journey thus far in terms of the science, strategy and fund raising.

Q: Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start a biotech company in India?


  • Technical excellence is necessary but not sufficient to start a company
  • A team is better than an Individual.
  • Further, a team with orthogonal skill sets – some or one, at least who isn’t a technical expert
  • The team with orthogonal emotional quotients is even better – i.e., a good mix of optimistic, realistic and pessimistic individuals is actually healthy. Having a dreamer, a planner/executor and an outwardly focussed networking specialist helps.
  • Ascertain where is the market need for the concept that is being developed
  • Line of sight to the final product, the market, the customers is as important right upfront alongside the skill and effort to translate a concept to prototype.
  • Don’t underestimate the complexities of fund raising and the art of telling a compelling story to a layperson (one who is outside your technical field) – who are most likely to be the investors. Technical experts, especially scientists are typically bashful of selling their own ideas and progress – this trait will not help in the case of entrepreneurship. Marketing the idea/concept/prototype is as important as developing the same.

Dr V Balasubramanian is among the 50 confirmed speakers at the 15th BioPharma India 2017 in Grand Hyatt Mumbai this 19-20 September. Join us to learn from impactful India pharma leaders.

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