Malaysia is realizing the importance of biotechnology and for that purpose it has allocated a sum of around RM210 million in its budget for developing its biotechnology sector. Malaysia has plans to acquire technology through the Biotech Acquisition Programme with a grant of RM60 million. Under the Biotechnology Commercialization Fund, commercialization of R&D findings would be undertaken by international corporations and companies. Along with that around RM59 million have been allocated under the R&D for production of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products, genomics and molecular biology and promotion of agro-biotechnology activities. The government is also planning to set up Bio Innovation Centre in order to offer site facilities and equipment for new companies in order to undertake bio-manufacturing activities and commercialization. Some of the other incentives which the Malaysian government would be offering are: First: bionexus companies be given income tax exemption for 10 years, beginning from the first year the company is profitable. Second: after the expiry of the 10-year exemption period, a bionexus company will be taxed at a concessionary rate of 20 per cent for another 10 years. Third: tax deduction equivalent to the amount of investment made in seed capital and early stage financing be given to companies or individuals investing in bionexus companies. Fourth: stamp duty and real property gains tax exemptions be given to a bionexus company undertaking merger with or acquisition of a biotechnology company, within a period of five years. Fifth: buildings for research activities related to biotechnology be given Accelerated Industrial Building Allowance, whereby the cost of constructing or acquiring the building is written off over a period of 10 years.
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Check these facts. In 2005 the Indian biotechnology industry was estimated to be around $1.05 billion achieving a growth rate of around 37%. As of now it just contributes to about one percent of the global biotechnology industry but it is expected that it would garner around ten percent share of the global biotechnology industry in the next five years. India can certainly achieve this as it has one of the largest pool of academicians and trained scientists and has more than three hundred institutes which are providing training in the field of bioinformatics and biotechnology. As of now there are more than seven lac post graduates and fifteen thousands PhDs which are working in various institutes and research areas across the nation. A study conducted by Ernst & Young has regarded India as one of the five emerging biotech leaders but China seems to be catching up quickly. As per the study India has achieved the third rank in the region on the basis of the number of biotech companies in the nation. Surely India is expected to realize its potential in the field of biotechnology and emerge as a clear winner in this field with its strength.
It is being predicted that China’s biotechnology industry output would cross $250 billion or 5% of their GDP by 2020. It is expected that China would come within the circumference of top five countries in the field of biotechnology. China has been making significant progress in the field of biotechnology and life sciences. In its long term programmes China had listed biotechnology as of the major areas for development of science and technology in the next fifteen years. It is expected that by 20202, China would be developing its own technologies such as genetic operation, pharmaceutical elements, new-generation industrial biotechnology and dry cell-based human tissue engineering. Already China has successfully established large biotechnology research, development center and also more than two hundred types of bio chip products. It is expected that China would race past others in the field of biotechnology.
Good news for farmers!! Now your banana crop would not get destroyed. Thanks to Rahan Meristem biotechnology company which has developed banana plants that can resist pathogenic nematodes which are parasitic organism that destroy the plant and the fruit. This nematode resisting banana plant variety is expected to save millions of dollars in lost crops. Up till now improvements in strains of banana could not be done due to natural sterility of the plant genetic modifications and lengthy filed testing has resulted in banana plants immune to parasitic organism. As per Onn Barzilai, CEO, Rahan Meristem: We are very pleased with our accomplishment of creating genetically-engineered banana varieties that were proven highly resistant to root nematodes. Our unique technology will also be used to improve additional crops against nematodes in a sustainable and safe manner.
In another development in the field of biotechnology, Nippon Paper Group is testing rice variant which could lessen the symptoms of hay fever. This special variety of rice was developed with the help of MAT vector system for the purpose of genetically extracting genomes or epitope in the rice. These epitope could act as a vaccine for hay fever and people consuming this strain of rice would be experiencing lesser symptoms of hay fever during the season. In order to achieve this, Nippon paper has established a large greenhouse of five hundred square meter on island of Komatsu and it is expected that around seven hundred kilograms of rice would be produced annually under proper light and temperature. The project has been commissioned by the Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries.
A South Korean biotechnology company, RNL Bio has partnered with John Hopkins University scientists for the purpose of conducting research on adult stem cell research. Stem cells have the ability to divide into cell types and can be used for repairing tissues or grown organs. Hopkins was a very big attraction for Hopkins. It is expected that the state would emerge to play a leading role in the area of stem cell research. As per Jeongchan Ra, CEO, RNL: RNL is excited about being able to partner with a top-class university such as JHU and looks forward to collaborating with the world-renowned experts at Johns Hopkins. We believe that this is a tremendous step for us in our goal to become a global leader in the stem cell industry. On the other hand there has been criticism regarding embryonic stem cells from religious groups and people who are opposed to it on ethical grounds.
A significant development has been undertaken in the production of therapeutic proteins. The researchers of Dartmouth/GlycoFi have announced the complete humanization of glycosylation pathway in the yeast Pichia Pastoris. Up till now protein based therapies consisted of more than half of all drugs in the development stage and their manufacturing involved living cells which had to be genetically engineered in order to produce the required protein. A process called glycosylation had to be performed in order to attain full function. Till now this required expression of proteins in mammalian cells which have the ability of attaching human like sugar structures. This new study has repeated all the steps of human glycosylation in a yeast cell and has eliminated the need for mammalian cells but the technology has also enabled various advantages over the conventional usage of mammalian cell cultures in form of reduced risk of contamination through pathogens and improved drug performance and efficiency in manufacturing. As per Tillman Gerngross, CSO, GlycoFi: We’ve successfully completed one of the most complex cellular engineering endeavors undertaken to date.
Thailand is looking forward to co-operate with Cuba on biotechnology which could bring changes in food and herbal studies. Both the countries have entered into an agreement on scientific co-operation in the areas of nanotechnology, biotechnology, computer and electronics and materials science. The agreement would enable Thailand to gain from knowledge of Cuba since Cuba is quite advanced in the field of biotechnology as it’s quite rich in biological resources. Prime minister of Thailand is on a visit to Cuba and this visit is expected to open up gates of opportunity for both the countries in exchanging their studies and research. As far as Cuba is concerned it has large variety of plants and cereals which have been developed through biotechnology and in order to gain from the experience of Cuba, Thailand is co-operating with it in this field. With regards to the development Thai scientists have undertaken researches on food and herbal studies in Cuba and in order to gain expertise have also undertaken a visit to Cuba’s Cancer Research Institute. It seems Thailand is all set to develop itself in the field of biotechnology.
In EU alone around eight percent of the children and four percent of adults suffer from food allergies. Dutch researchers are saying that if the combination of vaccines and biotechnology worked then the name of food allergy would only be found in the history books within a period of ten years. This news might bring smiles on the faces of people suffering from food allergy and could put the future of free from food market in jeopardy. A well defined combination of hypo-allergenic recombinant allergens and novel adjuvants based on anti-inflammatory molecules from pathogens could help in fighting food allergies. The advancements in the field of biotechnology has found out that certain molecules in foods lead to food allergies and this could also help the field of genetic engineering to change the molecules and cure the root cause of these allergies.
Now day’s women are under ever increasing pressure to either donate their ova for research or freeze them. Women are recommended to freeze their eggs so that they do not face problems later, when they are trying for pregnancy in later years. Women who are in their thirties are advised to freeze their eggs for future use. It is found that women who presently freeze their eggs do it because of medical reasons like cancer. Experts believe that there will be increased cases of social egg freezers in future. Women are increasingly being asked to donate their ova for research purposes. It was reported that in the city of Newcastle that women undergoing vitro fertilization treatment to donate their eggs were being paid. The permission for the same was given by the government. The decision to pay the women has faced increased protests. The major concern is of minimal use of drugs and minimum harvesting of drugs.