A new website called www.marinebiotech.org has been launched by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Media Lab which focuses on the environmental and medical aspects of the emerging field of marine biotechnology. This site can help people from all walk of lives ranging from students to working scientists and it is expected to improve the understanding of the research in marine biotechnology and the benefits offered by it. It would also throw light on key researchers in the field of marine biotechnology from across the country. The website was developed as a result of hard work of three years coupled with a grant of around $300,000 from National Sea Grant program. The website also includes well researched articles on a number of aspects of marine biotech research.
It is being said that biotechnology poses threats to arms control in the coming decades. There are chances that biotechnology could be misused by some people who might be having the necessary technical competence. The threats are being posed by the fast pace of technological change and the slowness of multilateral ratification along with questionable suitability of inspections and monitoring to small scale technology. This should not deter rather it should lead to construction of an appropriate web of prevention and response which would enable the world to benefit from this technology and minimize the dangers posed by it. There are chances that this technology could be misused in areas of immunology, molecular biology and other areas of research. This could prove to be dangerous for animals, human beings, species or crops. A number of problems could be posed by biotechnology and steps should be taken to curb it before it causes a big problem.
Though the awareness of biotechnology has been low in Nepal but some government institutes and private sector labs have tried to make some in inroads in this sector. The Nepalese government would be setting up a national biotechnology R&D center as the country is predominantly an agriculture nation. The country would be conducting research in the areas of agriculture which includes genetic technologies and tissue culture for selecting and breed improved crop varieties and for conserving the biodiversity of the country. The first biotechnology lab was started in Nepal in 1976 and in 1986 a private laboratory came up. It is expected that development in the filed of biotechnology in Nepal could help it in controlling poverty and preserving its rich biodiversity.
Puerto Rico has been named as the Bio Island by Anibal Acevedo-Vila, Governor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He stated that the Island was committed to establishing itself as a global hub for life sciences and biotechnology. Puerto Rico was committed to establish itself in the field of biotechnology as it wanted to make the life of its people healthier, safer and better. Biotechnology would also help this small nation in creation of better jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs and for economic advancement. The biotechnology sector of Puerto Rico has already created more than $3.5 billion in capital investments from a number of MNCs. A number of projects are already underway and the small island is all poised to become a biotechnology hub.
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.
Fresh financial threat is circling the pharmaceutical industry which is facing tremendous political pressure for producing generic biotechnology. As of now the market for biotech drugs is around $60bn and the Access to Life-Saving Medicines Act has been introduced for the purpose of setting up a clear regulatory pathway for copying some of industry’s valuable biotech drugs. Besides this there is added pressure from WHO which is conducting a meeting next month for tackling the issue of whether the biotech drugs which were not the same copy of branded drugs could still carry the same clinical name. Mike Ward, analyst, Nomura Code Securities says: The scene we have now is that the [pharmaceutical] companies want to hang on to what they’ve got. There are no set guidelines on either side of the Atlantic as to how you get these generics to the market. But the market is huge.
The biotechnology sector is on the rise. A number of companies situated on the east and west coast of U.S. are churning out a number of things ranging from new types of corns to papayas, home pregnancy tests and a possible cure for AIDS. On the other hand Midwest is trying to sell itself as a biotechnology destination as earlier it was struggling to reinvent itself after losing manufacturing jobs. Generally it is seen that whenever bioscience comes to the mind of people they tend to associate with the eastern and western coast. It is trying itself to position as a long term player in the biotechnology sector and high paying jobs and researchers coming to their land which has one of the strongest biosciences base. One of the main reasons Midwest lacked behind was that it went unrecognized by coastal ventures capital which is where the major share of venture capital is.
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.
Biomedical leaders and international experts have come together in Singapore for a seminar for discussing the state of biotechnology and sharing their vision for the technology with post graduates coming from seventeen countries. Thye would be throwing light on regional and local developments in biomedical R&D and providing insights on the future of this technology in Asia. A panel discussion would also be undertaken which would be exploring the future of biotechnology in Singapore. Called the 2006 Novartis International Biotechnology Leadership Camp it would feature speakers who are top officials in the Economic Development Board’s Biomedical Sciences Group, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases and Genome Institute of Singapore. The participants would be meeting and interacting with experts such as Sir David Lane, Paul Herrling and Edison Liu.
A number of biotechnology companies are not willing to make huge investments with their own money in AIDS vaccine research due to scientific and financial risks. Here are figures to prove this. In the year 2005, biotechnology companies spent about ten percent of the $759 million on AIDS vaccine development and just three of the thirty companies spent around $5 million of their capital in AIDS vaccine research. Companies fear that they may not be able to recover their investments as HIV is mostly prevalent in developing countries and it would be difficult for them to cough up money for the treatment. Though there has been increase in philanthropic funding for finding out cure for AIDS but the involvement of industry is necessary as these companies bring their specialized skills and resources along.