Rohan and colleague at C-CAMP

Gene therapy in India: Meet Viravecs, an early stage biotech

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Immuno-oncology in preventive healthcare may be a popular trend right now but it is not just big pharma’s game. We observed several interesting start ups in Asia working on finding the solution to cancer, including Viravecs from India tackling the problem from the genetics angle. We spoke with Rohan Kamat, Co-founder of Viravecs who is confirmed to speak at the 15th BioPharma India this 19-20 September and asked him a few questions prior to the conference.

 

Q: What inspired the founding of Viravecs?

Kamat: During the course of our PhD programs, Srikanth and me – the Co-founders realized the gravity of genetic diseases, particularly cancer. Though we both studied different aspects of Oncology, the basis of genetic disease and its cure remains the same. During the progress of our careers it dawned to us that more than 350 million people are affected by approximately 7000 rare genetic disorders globally. A mere 5% of these diseases have approved therapies, thus leaving a huge void to be addressed. One of the causes for this unanswered issue is lack of tools and technologies in the field of gene therapy. Having the complete gamut of skill set required for transgenics, Viravecs was established to further the field of gene therapy.

 

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

Kamat: The pharma industry in India has been growing at an exponential rate, giving us an opportunity to ride the wave. With the penetration of next gen sequencing (NGS) and big data, personalized & molecular medicine is taking center stage in therapeutics. NGS has immensely contributed towards better understanding of rear genetic disorders, thus giving us a better database to build our therapeutic tools.

Unlike other pharma companies in India, Viravecs Labs exclusively focuses on the technologies contributing towards gene therapy. Our focused efforts give us an edge over our competitors in arming the pharma industry with world-class tools to promote the field gene therapy and enter the global race in future medicine.

 

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

Kamat: 

  • We are keen on partnering with companies looking at initiating studies in the rear disease market.
  • Corporate investors or Angel investor with a focus on certain disease areas interest us primarily.

 

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

Kamat: I will be talking about Viravecs Labs with the following focus points:

  • The issue that we are addressing.
  • Our achievements till now.
  • Our on going projects.
  • Our fund raising plans.

 

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

Kamat: A typical Biotech company is highly capital intensive, it requires continues cash inflow. Thus as an entrepreneur, one has to be sure that this inflow is stable, either as a seed investment or from services.  In the same context, funds have to be spent wisely; maximum utility of resources is the key to this.

Apart from funds, patience is a virtue when it comes to entrepreneurship. A typical day might demand one to do some mundane paperwork to taking crucial decisions regarding your venture, and everything is important!

Lastly, it is very important to mark a point of moving ahead or closing down. One cannot stick to ‘hopes’ and ‘passion’ forever; if the venture is fading a timely closure will help one to embark on a new one.

 

Rohan Kamat is one of the over 50 confirmed speakers at Biopharma India conference this September, visit our website to find out more.

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