Malaysia has realized the importance of biotechnology and in order to realize its dreams is roping in two Bay Area partners to become a biotechnology center. It is trying to emulate Singapore which has been quite successful in this area. In order to make it possible the country is in the process of launching $200 million venture capital fund which would be co-managed by Burrill &Co. and Malaysian Technology Development Corporation. It seems that the whole of Asia is gearing up to do something in the field of biotechnology.
You all must be knowing who Tom Siebel is? He is a well known computer software tycoon and he stated that if he was to start his business today he would opt out of the field of computer and move towards biotechnology or energy industries. He believes that these areas present a lot of opportunities in the future. He spoke his thoughts while addressing the students at the University of Montana School of Business. When people like Tom Siebel advocates a technology then it seems that certainly that technology has something to deliver.
Who is the best in creating new biotechnology ideas- MIT or Harvard? Well, well Harvard is the leader in published papers but in terms of converting the ideas into moneymaking ideas MIT steals the show. The study which was conducted by Milken Institute studied science productivity of several years from universities worldwide. In the case of North American universities the factors which were taken into consideration were number of spinoff companies created and the amount of money that was earned by the schools through licensing. But alas both MIT and Harvard didn’t reach the top ten list in terms of ideas patented and these positions were led by Texas and California.
Scientific and financial risks are preventing a number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies from making huge investments with their own funds in AIDS vaccine research. Companies fear that they might not be able to recover their long term investment in drug research as HIV is quite prevalent in developing countries which are unable to afford such costly treatments. Though there has been an increase in worldwide funding for AIDS and also philanthropic and federal funding has seen a rise but investment from the private sector has decreased. There is an increased requirement for the participation of industry in the fight against AIDS as it involves a disciplined approach in project management and clinical trials.
In a recent development, Cytos Biotechnology has created a drug called CYT003-QbG10 which bamboozles the body into changing tactics in order to focus on tackling the larger threats rather production of allergic reactions to less harmful things. Preliminary trials which were conducted on patients suffering from hay fever suggested that grass pollen was reduced a hundredfold. The company claimed that the patients remained symptom free up till eight months after the therapy though it could not confirm whether the relief would be permanent. If successful it could help in curing common allergies such as pollen, asthma and hayfever which affects millions of people worldwide.
Cuba would be helping Vietnam in designing and building of a biotechnology center and would also be training their staff. Ripoll would be heading a Cuban delegation to the Vietnam-Cuba Intergovernmental Commission for the purpose of Technical, Economic and Scientific Cooperation which would be taking place in Hanoi. The meeting would also be concentrating on IT, Tourism and Biotechnology besides focusing on trade, science, agriculture and technology. It is a well known fact that Cuba enjoys an upper hand in the field of biotechnology and is trying to help out other nations who are trying to make a mark in this field. Biotechnology has a bright future and a number of countries are trying to make advancements in this field.
Intercytex which is a biotechnology firm is coming up with a robot for treating baldness and has landed up with £1.85m aid from the government. Under a test undertaken the company took hair follicle from the back of the neck, multiplied them and then replanted the cells for the purpose of inducing new growth. The grant would be utilized by the company for the purpose of developing a robotic system in order to grow the cells so that a number of people could benefit from it. This grant could help in the commercializing of hair follicles. The treatment could help in curing both male and female baldness. Hair follicles would be removed under anesthetic and then grown in culture so that they could multiply and be reinjected. It is expected that this funding would help in treatment of people on a large scale.
If Farmington’s application to state government program is accepted then in the future it could become a house to biotechnology businesses. The program known as Biotechnology and Health Science Industry Zone (Bio-Zone) program was passed in 2003. Gene Goddard, economic development specialist, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stated: It is designed to target growth of the bioscience industry. Businesses which take advantage of the program benefit from a close proximity to research centers, such as the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. It is designed to help consolidate bioscience companies so they can co-locate and share resources The program which was originally implemented in Minneapolis, Rochester and St. Paul saw an expansion during the recent legislative session and now communities such as Moorhead, Worthington and Fergus Falls applied for participating in the program. In the previous month even Farmington City Council voted for enrolling to the program.
As per the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, WTO has given a ruling that EU moratorium on agricultural biotechnology products approval is illegal. As per Susan Schwab, a top U.S. trade negotiator stated that the ruling has brought U.S. closer towards clearing barriers and expansion of global use of promising advances in the area of food production. The decision thus uphelds a challenge which was brought to WTO in the year 2003 by Argentina, Canada and US and these countries stated that the moratorium on biotech application approvals which was adopted in 1998 was not in compliance with WTO trade rules. Despite all this there is still a lot of support for agricultural biotechnology in Europe.
There seems to be worry regarding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office proposal. This proposal would be limiting the key part of the patent application process meant to reduce the patent backlog of around 700,000 cases by limiting continuations and this might be put into effect before year ending. This particular decision could receive protests from biotech and agri technology companies. Biotechnology is already a very controversial technology and this particular proposal could certainly add some more fire to it. I hope that the proposal is reconsidered in order to avoid undue protests from the pharma fraternity.