Realizing the needs of the biotechnology sector in Flanders, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) is coming up with a new bio-incubator in the technology park in Zwijnaarde. The new bio-incubator would enable to start up new Flemish companies attract a number of companies to Flanders. There is space for around hundred new jobs in knowledge economy. With two bio-incubators, VIB would be offering R&D-intensive companies in the life sciences with a chance for starting up quickly in an up to date infrastructure. Since the permits have already been procured the companies would get a very good start. The first bio incubator came up in 2000. The occupancy rate for both the incubators is quite good which reflects a positive trend for the sector.
As per a report by Robert Wisner of Iowa State University introduction of GM wheat in U.S. would hit the export trade of the country in durum and hard red spring wheat and would also affect the prices of these variety of wheat. The report further stated that introduction of fusarium-resistant GM wheat would present similar problems and the demand for these varieties of wheat has dipped following the introduction of non-GM varieties with fusarium resistance. The report also stated that introduction of GM wheat could not reverse the current downward trend in states. This trend is being attributed to U.S agricultural policy and increased production of soy and corn for biofuel production. .
A Halifax based biotech company has been successful in destroying huge cancer tumors in mice with their new vaccine technology. The company called ImmunoVaccine Technologies is soon expected to start Phase I clinical trials of its technology on human beings. In 2005 the company was voted as the most promising early stage biotech company in Canada. The vaccine technology developed by the company triggers a rapid immune response which enhances the effectiveness of existing vaccines. This technology can also be put to use for fighting infectious diseases and as of now is being used commercially in the field of veterinary medicine. Mr. Lowe said: These mice, within 14 days, became totally healthy – all tumours removed. We kept the mice for a year. We re-injected them with cancer antigens and no new cancers formed, and these mice had huge tumours and were really sick.
Do you know that lung cancer kills most among other forms of cancer and just around five percent of the patients survive for more than five years? Up till now all efforts to come with a solution for this menace have failed and this disease has not seen any change in the death rate for more than a decade. This trend could change as an experimental drug has been discovered which could lengthen the lives of lung cancer patients by a third. The experimental drug has been discovered by Antisoma which is a UK biotechnology company and it works by destroying blood vessels which supply solid tumors on which the tumors depend for survival and growth. Up till now the drug has shown satisfactory results.
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.
With every country trying to make a mark in the field of biotechnology, South Africa has a different story to tell. South Africa’s private sector seems to lag behind the public sector on R&D in the biotechnology sector. There are facts to prove this. Between the year 2001 and 2005, just fifty three biotechnology patent applications were received. Most of the applications came from the Agricultural Research Council, University of Cape Town, CSIR and the Institute for Animal Science and Health Research. The reason behind this could be that since biotechnology was new to South Africa therefore most of the private sector was closely working in association with the pharma sector.
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.