‘The way forward is to change our mindset and bring about disruptive innovations’

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August 10, 2016 2:11 PM

Staying focussed on your passion and constantly striving for excellence will certainly reap good fruit. This is exactly the case of StemRx Bioscience Solutions, a biotech start-up registered under the Start-up India scheme. Dr Pradeep V Mahajan, CMD, StemRx, talks about this success and vision for this venture with Raelene Kambli

Staying focussed on your passion and constantly striving for excellence will certainly reap good fruit. This is exactly the case of StemRx Bioscience Solutions, a biotech start-up registered under the Start-up India scheme. Dr Pradeep V Mahajan, CMD, StemRx, talks about this success and vision for this venture with Raelene Kambli

Congratulations, Dr Mahajan on winning the National Award in Healthcare Excellence in Clinical Research. Tell us about the research for which you were nominated.

201608ehm39Dr Pradeep V Mahajan

A vast majority of patients today suffer from untreatable conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, cardiac abnormalities, neurodegeneration etc., for which current advanced technologies do not have an answer. The way forward is to change our mindset and bring about disruptive innovations which rise above the current needs. Few among such innovations are regenerative medicine, cell-based therapy, genetics, nanotechnology etc. StemRx was nominated and won in the clinical research category for regenerative medicine and cell-based therapy.

What according to you is of paramount importance in achieving excellence in clinical research?

I usually say, ‘You carry your own repairing kits in your body.’ By utilising the existing healing power of our body, that is, by use of body’s own cells, fluids etc., we can now treat conditions that were previously thought to be untreatable even with the most expensive conventional treatment modalities. The challenge, however, lies in simplifying research in these technologies so as to reach the population as a whole and not just the crème de la crème. Cost effectiveness and mass appeal in new technologies is the excellence I am looking for.

Dr Mahajan you are an expert in cellular therapy. Can you elaborate on the advantages of this therapy in regenerative medicine. Also, in which sphere of medical treatment can this therapy be explored further?

In addition to being a researcher, I am in the field of clinical medicine and surgery for about three decades now. Current dogma of treatment is using pills/ medicines predominantly for management of symptoms and surgical management in advanced cases (when possible). Autologous cellular therapy and regenerative medicine focuses on eliminating the root cause of the problem by use of cells (cytokines, chemokines etc.), growth factors from one’s own body. We can further explore the prospects of this form of therapy in management of organ failure, to overcome rejection following organ transplants, developmental defects, cancer immunotherapy etc. At present, we are just at the tip of the iceberg. As I firmly believe, there will be a day when treatments will consists of cells and not pills!

Currently in India what opportunities do you see for this discipline?

India is a nation with increasing population demands. Being a developing economy, the application and opportunity of cellular therapy and regenerative medicine is different when compared to other countries. A number game exists between diseases and finances in our country. What we aim, with this technology, is for a diseased person to use his own body cells and fluids for treatment thereby addressing the issue of extreme financial burden as seen with conventional treatment modalities. This will drastically benefit our patients and country and will also propagate India towards becoming the leader in cellular therapy and regenerative medicine.

How is StemRx establishing its footprint in India?

StemRx further aims to be a major contributor of regenerative medicine, cell, molecular and scaffold-based technology in India. A multi-directional approach is employed at StemRx consisting of education, research and therapeutics. StemRx has academic affiliation/ collaborations for various training, degree, PhD and fellowship programmes with ITM, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) and Ohio State University (USA).

On the research front, StemRx is on its way to introduce products with cell and scaffold-based technology through tissue engineering. Additionally, research is ongoing in the field of molecular therapy, target-based immunotherapy and cancer treatment. As an Indian company, we have an Intellectual Property Right to acquire patents related to cell-based therapy in accordance with Indian/ International laws. StemRx has published numerous research papers and has filed patents for conditions such as avascular necrosis, ankylosing spondylitis etc.

Therapeutic application of cellular therapy is our strength and we perform autologous stem cell therapy with minimal/ no manipulation for more than 75 conditions which were previously thought to be untreatable. As on date, StemRx is registered under Start-up India scheme of the Government of India.

Who is your biggest competitor in this segment? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Major pharmaceutical companies are beginning to understand the power of cell-based technology and regenerative medicine and are entering this field. As with any segment, there will always be competition and our aim is to rise higher than the others through continuous research and dedication. StemRx has a dedicated clinical and research team along with world class infrastructure since the last seven to eight years.

What would be your success mantra?

Be focused and work towards  excelling in your goal. Compete with yourself and not others.

Tell us about your one business decision that changed your life?

As mentioned earlier, the need of the hour is newer treatment modalities. With a curious mind and in-depth research in cell-based therapy and regenerative medicine, I decided to change from being a general surgeon and academician to a stem cell therapist. This was a game changer in my career and StemRx was started. With this change, however, I have found my passion and am working towards achieving higher standards in healthcare with renewed vigour.

Share your learning lessons?

It is not easy to adapt to a new philosophy after having followed certain set of principles and methods for a long period of time. The important aspect to understand here is that, change is the only constant and in order to achieve anything meaningful, one has to be flexible and open to learning at all times.

Moving forward, what would be your vision for the future?

Looking back at the 19th and 20th century, innovations and cutting-edge technologies have been developed in neither space nor computer sciences, but in the field of genetics, cell-based medicine and nanotechnology. These innovations are a gift to mankind and my vision for the future is excellence in regenerative medicine.

raelene.kambli@expressindia.com

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