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Â Prof Ananda M. Chakrabarty â€” the scientist who fought a long legal battle to patent the first living organism â€” has his way, we could soon have a bacteria drug that can fight HIV and cancer. In three years time, I can have a bacteria product ready for clinical trials provided that administrative hurdles and funding is taken care of,” says the eminent scientist, currently Distinguished Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Illinois at Chicago.”All it will take is Rs 30 crore to bring the drug to clinical trials stage in India. However, there is a cultural problem in India. The industry just does not want to take risks,” says Prof Chakrabarty.
Celebrated internationally for his path-breaking research work, the Professor while addressing an audience in Delhi as part of a series of lectures, shared his disappointment with the response he had received on his earlier visit in 2005.
And this time, Prof Chakrabarty is keen on carrying out clinical trials for the treatment of cervical cancer, and for patients co-infected with malaria and HIV in India, since cervical cancers and malaria are more prevalent here.
Royalty arrangements can always be worked out he explains.
“If the response is zero, this may presumably be the last time I come here looking for partnerships,” he said.
Prof Chakrabarty has been studying bacteria that have shown a natural aversion for cancer cells and has six patents filed on his behalf by the University where he currently works.
The patents won by the Professor in early 1980s is considered a landmark for biotechnology as it had paved the way for more patents on genetically modified mice, pigs and cows.