Cracking the drug discovery code

Novo Informatics, one of the top 5 winners of TATA First Dot, powered by NEN, is 10 months old, and is helping pharma companies smoothen the process of drug discovery, reports Prashant K. Nanda in Mint.

New Delhi: The barely 160 sq. ft room inside the synergy building at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has nothing extraordinary about it. It is occupied by a few brochures portraying the brain, two posters, six computers and an equal number of people—all in their 20’s.

The room is the office of Novo Informatics Pvt. Ltd (NI), a 10-month-old start-up that is helping pharmaceutical firms smoothen the process of drug discovery and significantly reduce the time involved in this.

Driven by a passion to do something of significance on their own, some students and alumni of IIT-D joined hands to set up NI with a capital base of a little more than Rs. 3 lakh. The company aims to create a software to facilitate “target discovery” that helps cut the cost and time required in delivering drugs to the market.

The lifesciences-based research and development firm hopes to garner a revenue of $20,000 by 10 April, when it will complete a year. By April 2013, it aims to have an annual revenue of $135,000.

The enterprise, a spin-off from the Supercomputing Facility for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (SCFBio), a research lab at IIT-D under the guidance of professor B. Jayaram, has a virtual library of 13 million drug-like molecules collected from open source platforms or designed in-house using computational methods.

“We are exploring science for better healthcare. Our company is doing two things—focusing on target discovery at genomic and proteomics level for diseases, and simultaneously screening for lead molecules for our clients from our molecule library,” said Avinash Mishra, director and co-founder of NI. He was earlier working with AstraZeneca, a British pharmaceutical and biologics company.

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