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The Program

IKP-GCE is an opportunity to put yourself on the same platform as Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grantees from all over the world, while also leveraging the mentorship, resources and network that IKP offers. If selected you will be recognized as a GCE Phase I grantee, and will be eligible for a Phase I funding of USD 100,000 for a period of 18 months to two years. Successful projects will have the opportunity to apply for a follow-on grant of up to USD 1 Million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apart from the funding, IKP Knowledge Park will closely work with the chosen candidates; provide them technical and business strategy advice, as also access to synergistic networks within the nation and outside, including that of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; factors that would be critical to making an innovation a medical and commercial success.

In the first round of IKP-GCE conducted in December 2011, the following candidates will be considered as GCE Phase I grantees, and will receive (or have received) USD 100,000 to continue working on their project over the next 18 months, with mentoring from IKP Knowledge Park.

 

1. Dr. Kanury Rao, from International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biology (ICGEB), New Delhi. Dr. Rao proposed an alternative chemotherapy strategy to target TB, by modifying host proteins to inhibit the activity of the bacteria. Dr. Rao and his partner Sphaera Pharma are working on developing molecules that inhibit 3 host factors, that will reduce the infection of MDR/XDR strains, and can be combined with other drug regimens as a cure for TB. 

 

2. Dr. Ganesan, from Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh. K. Ganesan and Pradip Sen of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research - Institute of Microbial Technology in India will work to selectively kill cells latently infected with HIV by engineering reagents that would initiate killing only upon specific binding to proviral DNA. If successful, further development could result in a possible cure for latent HIV, which is thought to block the ability of anti-retroviral drugs to fully eradicate the disease. 

 

The second round of IKP-GCE closed in December 2012. The following four candidates have been awarded the GCE Phase I grantin May 2013.

 

1. Dr. Ashish Ganguly, CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh and colleagues from the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology will make an affordable paper-based diagnostic to quickly and precisely measure plasma gelsolin levels in expectant mothers to help predict premature delivery and postpartum recovery, thereby reducing new mother and child mortality rates. They will determine the value of plasma gelsolin levels for predicting postpartum-related problems using patient sampling and an animal model of preterm birth. They will also develop the diagnostic by identifying a plasma gelsolin binding peptide that will be used to coat an optimized paper strip, along with a cell phone based read-out to enable remote analysis by a centralized unit.

 
2. Windmill Health Technologies, New Delhi comprising Dr. Avijit Bansal and Dr. Ayesha Chaudhary  will develop an easy-to-use device to enable front-line health workers to more successfully resuscitate newborns. The current bag and mask device is inefficient and requires two trained personnel who are often not available. They have designed a foot operated manual resuscitator that also reports real-time performance, and requires only one trained operator. They will measure performance parameters of the prototype to generate evidence to support progress into clinical trials.
 
3. Dr. Rohit Srivastava and Dr. Aravind Kumar from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in India will develop a microneedle-based drug delivery system for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). Current treatment involves frequent administration of combinations of toxic drugs, which often leads to non-compliance necessitating further complex treatments. They have designed a photo-thermosensitive nanocarrier based on liposomes that can release the drugs transdermally via microneedles upon exposure to sunlight or LED in a controlled manner, bypassing the need for multiple administrations and reducing toxic side effects. They will fabricate the microneedles, evaluate drug release dynamics using light, and test drug bioavailability in vivo using a small animal model.
 
4. Dr. Vishwas Joshi, Founder of Seagull BioSolutions and team in India will develop a vaccine against the dengue virus by engineering a defective version of the measles virus to express dengue virus proteins (a so-called virosome), which can induce protective immunity. There is currently no approved vaccine that protects against dengue infection, which causes disease in 50-100 million people annually, some of which are life threatening. They will test the efficacy of the virosomes to prevent dengue virus infection by using them to vaccinate mice and analyzing immunity upon viral exposure.

 
 
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