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Bengaluru, NFAPost: Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP)has announced winners of AMR (Anti-Microbial Resistance) Quest 2021, a one-of-its-kind nation-wide platform dedicated to identifying and nurturing innovations in Antimicrobial Resistance.

Four startups/innovators were adjudged winners of this 2-month long competition. Another three found special recommendations by the Grand Jury.

This edition of the AMR Quest, which is conducted as part of C-CAMP’s programs under the CARB-X Global Accelerator Network, focused on solutions for ESKAPE Pathogens.

AMR conference

The winners will get to attend any one of 4 major AMR international Conferences/Programs in France, Germany, and USA, with all expenses covered.

Also on the cards for winners and Jury recommended innovators, is fast-track entry to a three-month C-CAMP AMR Accelerator, a flagship C-CAMP program aimed at handholding early-stage AMR innovations from India and opening up opportunities for funding and product development.

This second edition of AMR Quest that was launched on March 16, 2021 focused specifically on ESKAPE pathogens given . ESKAPE includes six highly infectious and mult-drug resistance MDR-bacteria all of which figure in the critical priority list of the DBT-WHO joint India Priority Pathogen List released in February this year.

Antibiotic Testing

These are Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiellapneumoniae, Acinetobacterbaumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa,and Enterobacter. The Quest received 220+ innovations across India.

The winners of AMR Quest 2021 are
• Adiuvo Diagnostics led by CEO, Dr Bala Pesala which is developing a rapid phenotypic Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing device that provides both drug resistance profile and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) by detecting biomarker concentration and autofluorescence intensity changes in pathogens under antibiotic stress.
• Geetika Dhanda, researcher at JNCASR, who is working on Membrane perturbing adjuvants to increase the antibacterial potential of available antibiotics against gram negative bacteria
• RapidDx led by Dr Satish Kalme which- has patented a novel microfluidics-based r-PASA (Rapid Personalized Antibiotic Susceptibility Assay) test enabling same day results in a self-contained test device directly from clinical sample.
• Pepthera led by Co-Founder Dr Gaurav Jerath is developing small programmable peptides with broad spectrum activity that target bacterial membranes.
The 3 special jury recommendations are
• Dr.Hemraj Nandanwar from IMTECH- who has developed 2 novel microbial compounds which inhibit efflux-pumping when used in combination with FDA approved antibiotics improving their effectiveness in treating ESKAPE pathogenesis.
• Raja Singh from JNU- who is developing synthetic molecules that target the topoisomerases of S. aureus and E. coli to control bacterial DNA replication.
• Simran Krishnakant Kushwaha from BITS Pilani for engineering a target plasmid with spacers, mimicking natural CRISPR arrays against the Salmonella-specific genes showing the way for implementation of CRISPR-Cas in Salmonella pathogenicity and biofilm formation.

The Quest set up a rigorous vetting process by India’s leading experts from Government and Industry in AMR diagnostics, drug discovery, drug safety, clinical research and anti-infectives. 44 innovations were presented to the Jury in 5 domain-specific expert panels. 13 Finalists pitched to the Grand Jury.

Commenting on the programme, C-CAMP CEO & Director Taslimarif Saiyed said Antimicrobial Resistance is one of the biggest healthcare challenges we face globally.

“But India’s AMR threat is peculiar, shaped a lot more locally by local healthcare practices, public healthcare system, policy etc. We need to identify indigenous solutions to tackle this problem and AMR Quest is one such effort in that direction,” said Taslimarif Saiyed.

Global partnerships

Introducing CARB-X as one of the leading global partnerships against AMR and highlighting C-CAMP’s role in fostering Asia’s only CARB-X funded projects, CARB-X Project Management Director Dr. Rich Lawson said AMR Quest is one of the many programmes the event partner C-CAMP for and as a funding organisation it is exciting to see the high quality and novelty of innovations it attracts every year.

Interestingly the 13-strong AMR Quest Finalists 2021 cohort represent exciting ideas from all four cornerstones of modern AMR research such as Non Traditional Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Preventatives and Direct Acting Small Molecules.

Moreover, winners span both pre-Proof of Concept and post Proof-of-concept ideas highlighting a strong pipeline. This along with the scientific strength of the ideas underlines the significance of platforms such as AMR Quest in increasing scalability and accelerating deployment towards creating greater last-mile impact.

Life science incubator

C-CAMP is India’s premier innovation and technology hub as well as one of the largest life science incubators in the country. A Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, supported initiative, C-CAMP’s mandate is to enable cutting-edge life science research and innovation, and promote life science entrepreneurship.

C-CAMP is now connected to ove 2000 start-ups across India, 200 of which have directly benefitted from its various schemes and over 70 of these have have raised more than ₹700 Crores INR in follow-on funding under C-CAMP’s tutelage. It is a member of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (BLiSC). Find more details on www.ccamp.res.in

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