Mumbai-based VAV Life Sciences, through its subsidiary VAV Lipids, is in the process of ramping up capacity at its EU GMP certified site based in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra to produce specialized lipids to meet the demand from Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers. The new capacity which would be operational from June 2022 will boost VAV’s sales by about 3.5 times to reach Rs 45 crores (USD 6 million) by 2023.
Due to the surge in Covid-19 cases and its variants, the demand for these lipid ingredients is expected to grow to around 2500 kg per year in the next three to four years. VAV is the only Indian and fourth global producer of highly purified lipids that are approved for use in novel drug delivery systems (NDDS).
“Through our subsidiary company VAV Lipids, we have invested Rs 15 crore (US$ 2 million) to boost production capacity to meet this unprecedented overseas demand for lipidic ingredients. We have undertaken a major expansion project at our EU GMP certified site based in Ratnagiri in the state of Maharashtra, India. On completion the expanded facility will produce about 6 times its current volume, thereby increasing lipid production to meet about 40% of global demand,” Informed Arun Kedia, Managing Director, VAV Life Sciences.
There are only four companies globally that collectively produce about 1000 kg per year. Apart from VAV, which is the only company from India, the other companies are Avanti Polar Lipids based in the US and Lipoid from Germany.
The expansion project is being funded by internal accruals and EXIM Bank debt. VAV was recognized by EXIM bank under their ‘Ubharte Sitaare’ program as a potential company for investment and was recognised by the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, at a conference hosted by the bank in August, 2021 at Lucknow, India.
“Moving forward, we aspire to be the largest specialty lipid supplier in the world. We will be making overseas investments, mainly in Europe. We will increase our investment in academic research and also continue to strengthen our presence in North America, Europe and Asia,” Kedia added.
The lipids are highly specialized phospholipids that are produced in small quantities but are crucial biomolecules used in the manufacturing of m-RNA based COVID-19 vaccines.
These synthetic lipids are used in the formulation of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), very tiny lipid particles which enclose sub-microscopic mRNA strands. These LNPs effectively deliver the mRNA to the target cellular sites and help bind these to the relevant cells.
Since mRNA, on its own, is extremely sensitive to degradation and rapid breakdowns, LNPs ensure the protection of the mRNA until its uptake in cells. This results in a better cellular response and efficacy against virus replication, significantly enhancing the overall immunogenic response of vaccines. These lipids are also used in other medicines for treating a variety of conditions like cancer and heart disease.
VAV Lifesciences Private Limited is a nanotechnology research-based biopharmaceuticals manufacturing company, headquartered in Mumbai. The company produces high-grade ingredients used in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, healthcare & personal care industries. It is among the world’s leading manufacturers of phospholipids and lecithin.
VAV’s product portfolio includes plant phospholipids (LECIVA), Animal phospholipids (LIPOVA), synthetic phospholipids, and neutral lipids. The other products include APIs and specialty proteins.
VAV exports almost 80% of its products primarily to North America, Europe, and Asia. VAV Lifesciences is also working in close cooperation with reputed academic research institutions for the development of advanced and novel drug delivery therapies.