CSIR Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, 1942-2016

In India, CSIR has played a key role in providing affordable health care, accessible to the imageforarticle_36251masses starting with generic medicines and continuing with development of modern medicines; it has now forayed into genomics and personalized medicines.

Sustained efforts in R&D by CSIR scientists have boosted the growth of Indian pharmaceutical sector on a massive scale. Virtually non-existent before the 70s, this sector has come a long way, providing generic products covering 95% of the country’s medicines. Serving 20 per cent of the world’s generic medicine market, India is the largest provider of generic medicines globally and is expected to expand further in the coming years.


Focus on reverse engineering of basic drugs that were either off-patent or protected by ‘product’ patent abroad, was a significant strategy. CSIR’s institutions like Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL) and Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI) took up challenging industrial problems, completed projects and technology transfers within reasonable time deadlines.Novel process technologies for several drugs were developed and licensed to Indian pharmaceutical companies.

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A view of the campus of Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) in Hyderabad

CSIR-IICT successfully completed the project for development of superior and economically viable technologies for AIDS drugs, better known as Zidovudine which was transferred to CIPLA. Image result for Zidovudine which was transferred to CIPLASubsequently, CSIR-IICT took up research work in various other HIV-inhibitors and HIV protease inhibitors.

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Collaborative efforts led to the success of a highly ambitious program at CSIR-IICT for developing cheaper alternative chemical routes for several life-saving drugs such as anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic drugs, and high blood pressure and antibacterial agents, among several others.

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CSIR – National Chemical Laboratory, Pune

CSIR-NCL, renowned globally for its excellence in scientific research in chemistry and chemical engineering and its outstanding track record of industrial research involving partnerships with industry from concept to commercialization, has developed novel chemical processes for synthesizing generic drug molecules.

CSIR-CDRI  produced a highly successful product,making a huge impact on women reproductive health,SAHELI -Anon-steroidal oral contraceptive for women.

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Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow

Right from its inception, CSIR-CDRI has identified thrust areas for R&D in diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, gastric ulcers, and dementia, being highly significant to the Country’s needs. CSIR-CDRI has given India many important and popular generic drugs such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.

New Drugs

Having contributed in the development of generics, CSIR shifted its focus on new drugs.

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IMTECH’s headquarters in Chandigarh, India

The CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTech) was established in 1984 to be a forerunner in the niche domain of microbial biotechnology. Streptokinase, developed by CSIR-IMTech, was successfully commercialized by  Cadila in 2002.

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Widely used Thrombolytic, Streptokinase TTK

Presently, about 15 brands are selling this drug. The total direct and indirect societal benefits of CSIR’s portfolio of Streptokinase come to about Rs. 20,000 crore so far. CSIR-IMTech is further developing Clot Specific Streptokinse (CSSK) which has completed second phase of clinical trials.

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Dr Girish Sahni working on  laboratory Clot Specific Streptokinse (CSSK), at IMTEC Laboratory

CSIR’s advent in the Genomics industry has seen it reach new heights in DNA research understanding mysteries of DNA and causes of various diseases.

Though DNA sequences are unique and individual, pharmacy shelves stocked with generic, uniform pills prescribed by doctors cater to a one-size-fits–all mindset. The age of personalized medicine has arrived on the horizon of medicine.

Genome project ended in 2003, a 13- year scientific odyssey to sequence the 3.3 billion letters making up a human DNA. The culmination of this ambitious study has changed the approach to biomedical research.

CSIR laboratories such as CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) and CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB) are proactively working towards deciphering molecular mechanisms for rare disorders.

Precision Medicine in Dermatology

GUaRDIAN: CSIR-IGIB has initiated a unique program on this front, pioneering the application of genomics for Precision Medicine in clinics in India. One of the programmes initiated is “Genomics for Understanding Rare Disease, India Alliance Network” (GUaRDIAN), which is a large-scale collaborative network of clinicians from around India trying to use genomics in clinical practice.  The network, one of the largest of its kind, today encompasses over 50 collaborators across more than 20 clinical and research centers in India.

The consortium aims at using cutting-edge genomics technology to enable identification of genetic variations in diseases and enable clinicians arrive at precise diagnosis for rare genetic disease.

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Ayurgenomics: A study by CSIR-CCMB in collaboration with other Indian Institutes has
convincingly correlated genomic variations with the classification of Prakriti.

In this reported study analysis of 262 well-classified male individuals belonging to three Prakritis(Vata, Pitta and Kapha) was conducted.

The study showed that the phenotypic classification of India’s traditional medicine has a genetic basis and its Prakriti-based practice in vogue for many centuries resonates with personalized medicine.

*This Feature has been received from CSIR (Unit for Science Dissemination), Ministry of Science & Technology, New Delhi.