Friday, 27 March 2015

LPU scientist develops novel technology for DNA amplification

                  Parallel DNA polymerase chain Reaction (PD-PCR):

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is one of the revolutionary techniques which almost every molecular biology lab use for their specific application. Kary Mullis received the Nobel Prize in 1993 for this technique. Due to its high impact and application in biotechnology research, Kary Mullis was awarded the Nobel Prize within 8 years of its publication. In the same year, Richard J Roberts and Phillip A Sharp received the Nobel Prize for discovery of “split genes”, after waiting for 16 years. This will give you some idea of immense impact PCR has had worldwide. PCR is based upon utilizing the capability of DNA polymerase to synthesize new strand of DNA complementary to the offered template strand. This revolutionary technology has allowed researchers to advance their understanding of various phenomenons taking place at molecular level within a cell. The technique has been exploited to understand various processes in life science research including human genome project. In addition, it has been an indispensable component of various forensic science applications, the diagnosis of hereditary diseases and the detection and diagnosis of infectious diseases.
The gene amplification market is predicted to grow to heights by 2017 suggesting a robust industrial prospective of PCR. Indian scientists Dr. Vikash Bhardwaj and Dr. Kulbhuhsan Sharma at India's Lovely Professional University and the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, Delhi respectively have recently published a novel PD-PCR (Parallel DNA PCR) technique which claims to amplify DNA in a parallel orientation, challenging the dogma that PCR can only be initiated when primers are aligned in an anti-parallel way. They have shown that the Taq DNA polymerase, enzyme used to amplify DNA during PCR, can even extend the oligonucleotide primer annealed to single stranded DNA in a parallel complementary manner. The details of how their proposed parallel DNA PCR differs from the conventional PCR can be found in journal F1000Research (http://f1000research.com/articles/3-320/v1).
In a personal communication, Bhardwaj and Sharma wrote to us “Our fundamental knowledge of DNA structure is based on the Watson-Crick model of DNA double helix, in which two polynucleotide chains running in opposite direction are held together by hydrogen bonds between the nitrogenous bases. Conformational polymorphism of DNA is now extending beyond the Watson-Crick double helix. After initial discovery of DNA by Friedrich Miescher in 1868, it took 85 more years to solve the accurate structure of DNA. One reason behind this delay was the assumption that DNA is an inert molecule and it might not have key biological function. Later, the independent work of few scientists (Griffith, Erwin Chargaff, Avery et al, Hershey and Chase) proved the biological function of DNA which created interest in scientific community to find out more molecular details about DNA. James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins received Noble Prize in 1963 for solving structure of  B-form of DNA. B-form is considered as the “hero of molecular biology” in which two complementary DNA strands runs in antiparallel directions and many of the molecular biology techniques are based on complementary binding of two strands of nucleic acid.
Conventional knowledge says that only antiparallel complementary primers can amplify DNA but through our research, we want to highlight that parallel complementary primers can also initiate a reaction. Till now, only a bunch of reports have talked about “Parallel stranded DNA”.  Ours is the first study showing that synthesis of DNA can happen also in a parallel direction. We report for the first time that from a single-stranded DNA template, two different but related PCR products can be synthesized. We are happy to share that within a very short span of time, our article is listed as one of the highly assessed article on F1000Research with more than 4000 views and 700 downloads worldwide.
We used to spend hours together discussing the possibilities of amplification of DNA template using parallel primers. We enthusiastically ran the reaction with different combination of  parallel primers and found amplification similar to control reaction. We were very excited! However, as it was something in contrast to what scientists all over the globe believe, we reconfirmed the phenomenon using various approaches. It was only after the concrete validation that we submitted our study to F1000 research. We strongly believe that researchers will understand the significance of our work, which will lead to a clearer understanding of the various biological phenomenons. This research is revolutionary one which will be helpful in tracing all errors hitherto committed. This new knowledge will definitely open a way in better understanding of remedies for fatal diseases with more probes.

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Walking on the path on my Goal – An Entrepreneur Approach (Story of Vinit Rambhia ,Founder- V India BioSynergy)

Vinit Rambhia
Founder- V India BioSynergy
Walking on the path on my Goal – An Entrepreneur Approach

I am Vinit Rambhia, MSc graduate in Applied Genetics from The Oxford College of Science, affiliated to Bangalore University. Currently, proud owner of a Company named “V India BioSynergy”. My company fulfills all the requirements of Biotech Laboratories & Hospitals – from Consumables to Instruments.
I was introduced to GBioFin in 2012 through an educational website; there on I became a part of GEIC course. The tour was a tough one for a science background student due to business terminologies & commercial aspects, but the most informative one too. It gave me an over-all picture of setting up a company. Especially the last module & assignment where one has to formulate the whole business plan implementing your own research idea. GBioFin was kind enough to even lend me a hand in finding investors. All those assignments & interactions have helped me to reach the position I am in today. As a saying goes, “Each drop helps make the sea”, GBioFin provided me the whole tanker.
These amazing people still keep me updated about all their activities. So this shows that the relationship with GBioFin doesn’t last only till the course, it is a permanent bond. I would like to be associated with this organization in future too.
GBioFin is a boon to the Biotech Sector of India. Keep up the good work.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Interview Session : with Mr. H C Baxi Consultant,Agri Biotech Gujarat

H C Baxi
Consultant,Agri Biotech
Questions1.)  Hello sir! Can you give insights on your background, education and current positions?
Ans:  I have done my post-graduation in plant biochemistry from GujaratAgricultureUniversity, Anand. I am working with Indian Agriculture Input Industry since past 24 years. I have worked with companies like DOW-Nocil, Plant Genes , Vikram Seed Ltd. (Now taken up by Mahyco Group of Mumbai).

2.)  What inspired you to be AgriBiotech business consultant?
Ans: Agri-biotech industry is a fast growing industry all across the world. Agriculture is back bone of Indian economy and it required major new innovations for higher productivity. The classical and conventional improvement approaches reached threshold and therefore the novel, accurate and fast technology for genetic upgradation for more economic farming was highly essential. This could be best achieved through integration of biotechnology. Looking to the potential and need of technology I ventured in this sector, which has significantly contributed towards miracle results in crops like soyabean, cotton and maize. Many more crops are under research. I am also greatly thankful to ISAAA( International Service For The Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications) who updates me with latest emerging opportunities of Agri Biotech across the world.

3.) What were the most significant personal challenges you faced, transitioning from a scientist to a business consultant?
Ans:  Biotechnology is a high end technology requiring great knowledge, patience, fund and infrastructure. The technology came to India in the era of 2000. The knowledge base with local seed companies as well as with government was poor. No clear and well defined regulatory board was  existing.
To educate the stake holders on various technology and regulatory fronts, there was a big need for service provider to industry. In view of low knowledge based and unclear roadmaps/polices, I had lot of challenges to face. It was hard to deal with industry people as well as government machinery who were lacking basic knowledge of agribiotechnology.

4.) What skills does a new comer needs to develop before establishing an AgriBiotech company?
Ans:  Establishing an AgriBiotech cmpany needs combination of basic knowledge of biotechnology as well as agriculture. The knowledge on current issues and demands is equally important.
The person should look for regular exposure to high end biotechnology providers. He should be interested to work in India. Availability of venture capital with sufficient gestation period is also equally important as it normally takes about 3–4 years time to come out with end product.
Knowledge on current regulatory and approval process is highly essential.

5.)  Does Indian government provide funds for it? Please shed light.
Ans: Now-a-days some institutes under DBT, DSIR, ICAR and various state universities as well as venture capital funds like ICICI, Reliance, TATA, International banks like Rebo Bank, Black Stone have shown interest in funding Indian agribiotech company.

6.)  Tell me something about the regulatory issue in our country for production of seeds?
Ans: In the initial phase of introduction of biotechnology in Indian agriculture, the regulatory frame work was not very much decided. With the passage of time and experience quite a lot has been done to frame the rules and regulations for Agribiotech industry in India.
However, still we do not have a smooth and clear system of approval of various Gene events for commercial release. A lot delay has been observed in approval of the existing well used gene events in crop like cotton in-spite of undergoing biosafety assay of various gene events.
Apart from the above mentioned hurdles of government, the technology provider from industry side are also highly uncertain and asking for undue infrastructure and delaying clearance of new applications from granting licenses. Also, it is observed that they bypass applications from SMEs which are major players in Indian seed industry. The government need to intervene in such monopoly behavior of technology providers.

7.)  How has research in biotechnology helped to advance agriculture? Where do you see its future?
Ans: Agri Biotech research has helped in improving crop productivity and it has ultimately helped in raising farmer’s income. It has also contributed significantly in reducing use of hazardous pesticides controlling environmental pollutions.
The introduction of Bt cotton in India has revolutionized cotton farming.  India was traditionally producing 158 lakhs of bales(each 170 kg) before introduction of Bt cotton in 2002. This went upto 334 lakhs  of bales in 2013. The reduction in consumption of pesticide was to the extent of about 47% in cotton. The leader in India is Gujarat were the production of 1617 lakhs bales in 2001 raised to almost 125 lakhs bales in 2013.

Adoption of Bt cotton in India, by major state, from 2002 to 2009 (thousand hectares)


Andhra Pradesh


Madhya Pradesh

Northern Region*


Tamil Nadu



Number of Genes
0.15 (4%)
2.04 (27%)
4.82 (57%)

1.3 (100%)
3.65 (96%)
5.56 (73%)
3.58 (43%)

1.3 (100%)
3.80 (100%)
6.20 (100%)
7.60 (100%)
8.40 (100%)
















*Punjab, Haryana & RajasthanSource: Compiled by ISAAA, 2009. Adoption of single and multiple gene Bt cotton hybrids in India, 2006 to 2009 (in millions of hectares and percentage)

Source: Compiled by ISAAA, 2009.

. Number of small farmers adopting Bt cotton hybrids in India, 2002 to 2009

 # of Bt Cotton Farmers
Source: Compiled by ISAAA, 2009.

8.)  Government has approved decision of Genetic Engineering Appraisal committee to allow more than 200 successful gene modification trials for rice, wheat, maize, castor and cotton. Kindly comment.
Ans: This is really a good decision. The trials in the controlled conditions of internationally recognized technology in our country climate, soil, etc should be promoted.  The above refered crops has already reached threshold level of yield hence it is need of a science to explore more options for improving productivity.
 Only the thing that it should be exhaustively tested for biosafety, let it to be several years trials but once the final commercial approval released than more number of seed industry players should be given opportunities.  Appropriate education to general public regarding benefits of gene modifications is highly essential before the commercial release to avoid undue opposition of otherwise beneficial products. Our population is rising at geometric rate and food supply is at arithmetic rate. This is a big challenge to India to provide sufficient and nutritive food to its people. The gene modifications have biggest strength to enhance our food productivity not only for our requirement but creating a surplus for export to uplift our exchequer.

9.)  What are the premier organizations/institutions/companies in India and abroad that are doing biotech research to uplift agriculture. Please shed light.
The government of India has devised a big program for R & D in biotechnology for agriculture. The premier organizations like DBT, ICAR and DSIR are sponsoring and funding several specialised research institutes to run projects on agribiotechnology. To name few are JNU(New Delhi), NBRI(Lucknow), CCMB(Hyderabad), ICRISAT ( Hyderabad) , NRCPB(IARI, New delhi), IIT (kharagpur) and so on.
These research institutes are focusing on various crops and targets to tackle the major problems and improvement in genetic capability of various crops.

10.)  What advice would you offer to any biotech student who wishes to start up a company focusing on agriculture?
The biotech research in agriculture need lot of knowledge, fund, infrastructure. The new comers should get well trained in application aspects of technology by associating with a agribiotech company for few years before venturing into his/her own company. There is lot of scope and potentiality in agribiotechnology research with a huge market availability. The application of biotechnology in agriculture is just a beginning not only in India but across the globe. This makes the industry as a lucrative and potential business. 

HC Baxi, Consultant, Agri biotech, Gujarat
 Email: hemangbaxi95@gmail.com

About-Hemang Baxi
Agriculture Business Consultant. Working since last 24 years with Indian Agriculture input Industry. Working experience with DOW-Nocil, Plant Genes, Vikram Seed Ltd., (Now take up by Mahyco Group of Bombay).

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