For nearly a century the limestone miners made their living by working in the Southern Indiana’s cave country. Times have changed now and this rock quarry has now been turned into a warehouse. In this bottomless maze the air is chilly and damp. There are roads that connect 12 large chambers. Some of these chambers are being used by the US military to store ready to eat meals. The place is also being used by tire companies to store their supplies because of the stable temperature conditions. One of the rooms in this quarry is being used to grow corns. The room is a hot one with the temperature constant at 82 degrees. With the help of biotechnology gene sequence from a different species or an unrelated plant can be inserted into corn. As the corn grows the protein can be harvested and used for vaccine or a drug. The plants can be used to make life saving compounds for diseases like cystic fibrosis or diabetes or cancer.
Category Archives: Biotechnology
Kedah can take the help of biotech for its growth in the field of agriculture. According to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, the biotechnology industry will also help them to commercialize their agriculture products. There is potential in the agriculture sector, with the growth of the biotech industry private sector will come up and try to get a share of the growing sector. The Investment Seminar 2006 (Agriculture sub-sector) in Alor Star had around 450 agriculture entrepreneur from Penang, Perlis and Kedah who attended the one day seminar. As per Mahdzir, the state has set up the AgroKedah Sdn Bhd. The purpose is to promote Kedah to probable investors who are interested in agricultural projects by making use of biotechnology. It is believed that investors would be willing to come to Kedah as the government has promised a steady supply of basic facilities and labor. With the help of biotechnology the efforts of the farmers are reduced and the revenues soar up.
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.
Advaxis which is a New Jersey based biotechnology company is working towards creating vaccines for treating various types of cancers found in women including breast cancer. Already the team at Advaxis has taken a major step in developing a number of cancer fighting vaccines. A bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes which is found in dairy products was used by the team. The team modified Listeria for delivering cancer antigens. Using the power of the immune system it attacked the Listeria and at the same time also redirected the immune system for attacking cancer cells. The vaccine named Lovaxin B is in the pre clinical testing stage and the company plans to manufacture significant quantities of the vaccine and is waiting for FDA approval for a clinical trial. If successful in its trial it would certainly go a log way in curing cancers in women.
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.
Jeff Swiatek got an opportunity to interview Ronald D. Henriksen, an innovator and former Lilly executive who was there when biotechnology revolution started in 1976 and when world’s leading biotech engineers came together for comparing their notes at Eli Lilly. In 1993 Henriksen left Lilly and started hi career in venture financing and tech startups. Now he is the CEO of two biotech startups called Semafore Pharmaceuticals and EndGenitor Technologies. This an intensive interview which has focused around the biotechnology field and his work involved. To read the whole interview click here.
BASF undertakes investment in new energy generation technology research activities in the areas of energy management and industrial biotechnology. In order to further its interests BASF is in the process of investing 3 million in LUCA Technologies. LUCA is involved in using microorganisms for reactivating the production of methane gas from fuels such as oil or coal. LUCA has plans for developing Geobioreactors into mass production methane farms which would meet the growing demand for this energy. Robert Pfeiffer, President and CEO of LUCA Technologies said: We are excited that a leading international chemical company with the stature of BASF shares our vision of this future technology. The new strategic partnership will accelerate product development to help meet the growing demands of a $150 billion United States domestic natural gas market. The funds would be used by LUCA for continuing its R&D activities in the lab and supporting testing of the technology in coal beds on its own or through partnerships with energy companies.
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.
The regulatory authority for biotechnology crops in India, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has stated that India has witnessed an increase in the area under plantation with GM insect protected cotton from 1.2 million hectares to 3.2 million hectares in 2005. This variety of cotton has a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis which imparts protection to cotton plants from specific lepidopteron insect pests. Farmers in India were earlier facing losses due to insect pests and up till the year 2002 chemical control was considered to be the only option for controlling the pests. This is what one of the Indian farmer Eknath Shivram Pandit had to say abut GM cotton: It is cost-effective. We have to spray just 2 or 3 times. But with the other seeds, the worms would attack, and we had to spray at least 15 to 20 times.