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PM welcomes biotechnology research development

1 August 2003 Media Statement

PM welcomes biotechnology research development

Prime Minister Helen Clark today congratulated New Zealand research company Virionyx on the announcement of new collaboration with two United States companies to develop treatments for infectious diseases like SARS, West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever, and against possible bio-terrorism threats like smallpox and anthrax.

“Virionyx was recently approached by the two US organisations. One of these, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, is a non-profit biomedical research facility under the leadership of a Nobel prize-winning scientist, Dr Herbert Hauptman. The other, ZeptoMetrix, is a leading biotechnology company with particular expertise in viruses such as HIV.

“These leading US companies have assessed that the success and experience of Virionyx in developing treatments for HIV infection to the clinical trial stage makes it a good partner in the search for the treatments of new pathogens and in combating potential bio-terrorist threats.

“Like Virionyx, they also see the advantages New Zealand offers as a location for advanced biotechnology research and development. For all these reasons, they approached Virionyx with the offer to form a collaborative partnership, and Virionyx has accepted.

“In addition to the $23 million raised by shareholders, Virionyx has been assisted in recent years by three government agencies: Technology NZ, Industry NZ, and Trade NZ. Public funding, for example, assisted Virionyx to bring talented young New Zealand scientists back home.

“These developments at Virionyx are a significant step for the New Zealand biotechnology industry and one that will boost its international profile,” Helen Clark said.


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