Theramyt Novobiologics is a biotech venture started by Sohang Chatterjee and Kavitha Iyer Rodrigues in July 2013. Theramyt is developing technology platforms that can generate a completely new class of therapies for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis as well as diabetes. Theramyt is based on fundamental R&D with a much larger value proposition in the drug development life cycle.
This is Sohang’s second biotech venture after Inbiopro Solutions. Inbiopro Solutions was established in 2007 by Sohang with Kavitha and Aditya Julka. Inbiopro was strategically invested in to by Strides Arcolab in 2010 and acquired fully in November 2012. At Inbiopro, they were developed biosimilars which were then licensed out to large Indian Pharma companies for marketing the products.
“When we started Inbiopro in 2007, there was a clear market opportunity for biosimilars as the traditional pharma companies were looking to enter biotechnology market and were looking for a partner who could shorten their entry time to market. We were one of the early players then. Since then, the industry has matured and now there are many more players working on bio-similars. This rush has been precipitated by a large basket of biological blockbusters going off-patent between 2015 and 2020,” adds Sohang.
Now, with Theramyt, they want to be ahead of the pack. “We need to differentiate ourselves and we want to be a game changer not just in the Indian biotech industry but the global scenario. Ours is a capital intensive industry with long incubation period for a product to come to market. With relatively limited funding (compared to a US or UK) we had to innovate our strategy. So, we decided to look at existing innovator’s products and explored areas with scope for improving on them. That became the premise for setting up Theramyt,” says Kavita. In fact, they are listed as the only Indian company in the Biobetter Innovation field by Global Industry Analysts’ 2014 report ‘Biobetter Trends’ (Report No. 146053).
Their 27 member strong science team can make them a global power in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. They are a non-traditional organization that thinks fun and serious science can be a healthy mix towards a high performing, purpose driven industry leader. As a startup, they recognized very early the importance of Organizational Development. “Therefore, we have a structured program with various OD activities in addition to the obvious knowledge and skill development programs,” adds Kavita. They plan to expand to 50 members soon.
As their first initiative, they are developing our proprietary gene knockout platform for glycosylation modification on monoclonal antibodies. “This would address the Fc portion of the antibody, that responsible for effector function,” says Sohang. Their second initiative is developing a proprietary protein library that can be used to screen various disease targets and the selected protein can then be combined with our high-potency Fc portion of the Antibody. To make this commercially viable, they have another program in mind to combine the Knock-out cell line with high expression elements.
“A part of our earning from selling Inbiopro has gone back in to the initial operation of Theramyt,” says Sohang. In addition, we have received Rs.27.5 crore VC funding from Accel Partners, IDG Ventures, Aarin Capital and Karnataka state government-backed KITVEN. Most of this capital has gone in to setting our state-of-the-art research labs in Yeshwantpur (Bangalore) and initial proof of concept data of our science. Their immediate plan is to raise a second round of funding in 2 years’ time. “That should take us to an inflection point when we decide to either remain a R&D and product development company or become a fully integrated biotech marketing company,” says Sohang.
They would be partnering with large global biotech drug development and marketing companies in a couple of years’ time, once they have developed proof of our technology and filed all the necessary patents. “We have already filed 2 provisional patents and our target is to file 5 patents under PCT by 2015,” he adds. As a message for future entrepreneurs, they say, “We constantly question ourselves whether we are doing enough. Always think what can be done differently and not just follow benchmark set by others.”