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Bharat Biotech International, along with two companies, on Monday tied up with the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT) to develop new platforms and locally make raw materials for bio-therapeutics and vaccines.

The agreement comes in the aftermath of a raw material shortage for covid-19 vaccines due to restrictions by countries like US.

Bharat Biotech, Biovet and Sapigen Biologix signed a master collaborative agreement, under which the three companies will provide necessary financial support to CSIR-IICT for developing key raw materials.

Animal vaccine manufacturer Biovet and biotech research firm Sapigen Biologix are both led by promoters of Bharat Biotech.

The companies will also perform in vitro and in vivo studies for further development of potential vaccine candidates and bio-therapeutics formulations to be designed by the collaborators.

“The US has put restrictions on some raw materials. It can’t be exported to other countries… Actually, we are not able to get one of the raw materials we need from US and Sweden. A lot of restrictions are coming in but we need to anticipate this sort of thing in future. That is one of the reasons why we decided to partner," said Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Krishna Ella at a press conference on Monday.

The tie-up is not aimed at just covid-19 vaccines and bio-therapeutics but also for the development of other vaccines, and includes the development of platforms such as inactivated and messenger RNA vaccines as well as the raw materials required.

Ella highlighted the importance of domestic manufacturing of raw materials such as beta propiolactone and thimerosal, which are both imported from Germany.

Bharat Biotech uses beta propiolactone to inactivate the novel coronavirus in its covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, while thimerosal is used as a preservative.

The agreement was built on a successful partnership between Bharat Biotech and IICT earlier.

The government institute had developed the molecule, TLR 7/8, which was used as an adjuvant for Covaxin.

An adjuvant is a chemical that is added to the drug substance of a vaccine to boost the immune response provided by it.

The adjuvant was the backbone of the 80.6% interim efficacy that was achieved by Covaxin in the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial, which eventually helped the company secure a regulation emergency licensure from Drugs Controller General of India V.G. Somani for Covaxin.

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