As per Dr Durga Rao, Chairman, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, IISc, India has a very big potential in the field of biotechnology and it is all set to emerge as the vaccine hub of the world. The vaccine hub title has been possible due to the outsourcing of bio tech applications to the country. India has a lot to gain in this sector due to low cost of production and huge manpower. He further said that students could have a very bright future in the field of biotechnology and India could certainly benefit from the outsourcing trend in this field.
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.
Enzo Biochem which is a biotechnology company has got a license for a device which enables researchers in increasing the amplification of small RNA samples. This device has been created by LBS Technologies and its helps researchers in gene expression studies. A number of reactions are involved in this technology and it strengthens the amplification of RNA samples which are taken from biopsies and tissue sources when the sample size is small. Now the company has an additional patent apart from its portfolio of six patents dealing with gene amplification technology.
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.
Are you a diabetes patient? then this news would certainly bring a ray of hope in your life. If Novocell is to be believed then the company might come up with an effective treatment against diabetes. Let me remind you that Novocell is a company which specializes in stem cell engineering. The company claims that it might be possible to repair insulin producing tissues which are affected by diabetes and said that stem cells from embryos could evolve and turn into cells which could provide insulin. If successful this treatment might be available in another three years. Emmanuel Baetge, chief scientific officer, Novocell said: The efficient, reproducible production of human embryonic stem cell derived, insulin producing endocrine cells through a process that mirrors the development of human pancreatic cells represents a critical step towards providing a renewable source of cells for diabetes therapy. This provides a foundation upon which we can build a standardized process for generating functional insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetic patients.
Biotechnology is in the firing line again and this time in Mexico. In a recent move, Mexico has stopped Monsanto and other biotechnology companies from planting GM corn. Environmentalists have welcomed this step as they feel that this would prevent the contamination of native varieties of corn in the country. On the other hand supporters of biotechnology said that the country would not be able to gain from plants which could not only prevent use of herbicide and pesticide but also offer gains for the local farmers. They further said that GM corn was being planted in a number of countries around the world and it was offering gains not only to the farmers but also to the environment. I believe that this is a temporary decision as MNCs would pressurize them into changing it and GM corns would ultimately find a place in the fields of Mexico.
The high cost of biotechnology drugs has been pinching the public and biotechnology companies realizing this are making an effort towards making these products more affordable. Here are some of the examples which would make you believe what I am saying. Amgen has announced that that it would be limiting out of pocket expenses for the patient for its colorectal drug, Vectibix to five percent of their annual incomes whereas recently Genentech announced that it would be limiting the costs for its cancer treatment to $55,000 annually. I think that it is a welcome step and it would certainly go a long way in increasing the popularity of biotechnology.
This can be considered as an exciting development in the field of biotechnology. We all know that Alzheimer is a disease for which there is still not a permanent cure but Enkam Pharmaceuticals which is a small Danish firm with a workforce of just fourteen people has come out with a drug called FGL which has been found out to be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer patients. This drug has been found out to be effective in improving memory and re-establishing spoilt nerve cells. It is different from other drugs available in the market as these are concerned with removing the protein which is thought to cause Alzheimer. It is being contemplated whether this drug would be able to enter the markets as figures tell that there is just a five to ten percent chance that a new drug is able to make it to the shelves. The major factor which comes against it is the return factor and due to this at times effective drugs fails to reach to the people.
A company named Replidyne wanted to get fast track approval for its faropenem medoxomil drug but suffered a shock when FDA said that the company should further conduct tests for the drug rather than getting it approved in a fast track manner. This drug can be used in treating pneumonia, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and other types of skin infections. FDA wants an exhaustive study to be conducted and termed the study conducted by the company to be insufficient for getting approval. The company was hopeful that it would easily get the approval of FDA. The probable reason was that FDA has changed its requirements since it started the approval process and now wants companies to prove that their drug is not only effective but superior to the alternatives available in the market. I believe that it a correct move by FDA because a number of drugs are being developed under the umbrella of biotechnology and most of them have not been able to meet the expectations. It seems FDA wants to play safe.