COVID-19 incubator C-CAMP is fighting coronavirus with innovative solutions
A never-before-seen crisis on such a global scale, the COVID-19 outbreak has left the world dealing with extreme ramifications. The Government of India, through an initiative by the Department of Biotechnology, has introduced a COVID-19 startup incubator and accelerator under the name C-CAMP to help ease the situation.
The Centre for Cellular And Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) is an initiative of the Department of Biotechnology, supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The centre believes that the fightback to the coronavirus outbreak starts with innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.
Looking at the gaps present in the industry, the government formed the organisation, which is a major unit for industry-interaction, innovation, and incubation.
Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, the CEO and Director of C-CAMP, told YourStory that the at the centre is based on nucleic acid and isothermal amplification. He said research at the centre revolves around employing an isothermal enzyme in the polymerase chain reactions (PCR), which accelerates the speed at which the testing is carried out.
He said, "Conventional PCRs all around the world take at least two-and-a-half hours to produce test results. With our technology, the turnaround time is cut down to only 30 minutes. Like every other testing centre, we also target four specific genomes to test for COVID-19."
On March 26, C-CAMP launched COVID-19 Innovations Deployment Accelerator (or C-CIDA) to help accelerate COVID-19 innovations stuck in last-mile issues. The initiative has now been joined by multiple partners like UNHIE, Social Alpha, XYNTEO India2022, MedTechConnect, India Health Fund, AIC CCMB and CCMB, and PATH.
C-CAMP's goal is to ensure the success of scientific talent in the country by facilitating research and entrepreneurship in bioscience. It provides necessary tools for research, development, training, and services in its advanced technology platforms to shortlisted entrepreneurs and participants.
It received more than 250 entries after opening applications for the incubator, of which five startups were selected. The shortlisted startups are Ahmedabad-based CoSara Diagnostics and Ampligene Diagnostics, Bengaluru-based Coeo Labs and Anabio Technologies, and Hyderabad-based Avyantra Health Technologies.
To promote entrepreneurship and innovation, C-CAMP is fostering a friendly culture for founders by powering seed funding schemes, mentorship programmes, and a bio-incubation facility.
The use cases
The world is now facing a major challenge in determining positive and confirmed cases of COVID-19. The CEO says the only way to tackle this is to ensure that locally-built testing kits reach the masses immediately. This can help halt the spread of the infection.
The technology built at C-CAMP is reported to be generating more opportunities to churn out a large number of testing kits and screening tools, amplifying their reach.
He says agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, when they share data with the public, will help identify that not all genomes need to be screened and mapped, but only a specific target gene.
Dr Taslim said, "The technology built at C-CAMP is completely indigenous and has the potential to provide us with large numbers of testing kits. When we further narrow screening and testing to that one target gene, it also cuts down on a lot of costs and time."
C-CAMP claims to have more than 57,000 ventilators, and is hopeful that the pandemic can be put to halt quickly by deploying its Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines at lower prices.
In a joint venture with US-based Co-Diagnostics, Ahmedabad-based CoSara diagnostics aims to cater to a population of 1.3 billion, and also export COVID-19 testing kits to surrounding regions.
Incubated at C-CAMP, it is also the first and the only Indian startup to get a licence from the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) to manufacture RT-PCR COVID-19 test kits.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)