Major University Of Otago Bio-Tech Discovery
University of Otago scientists have discovered an anti- bacterial protein called Salivaricin B, which can prevent or control streptococcal throat infections, thus preventing serious complications including rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.
International patent applications have been filed for the discovery.
The anti-bacterial protein is produced by a micro-organism called Streptococcus salivarius, which occurs naturally in the mouth saliva of some people, thus giving them a natural immunity. It was discovered following many years research by a University of research team, lead by microbiologist, Associate Professor John Tagg.
Salivaricin B produced by the Streptococcus salivarius micro- organism is technically known as a BLIS, which stands for `bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances'. The discovery of Salivaricin B is a major advance in the global battle against increasing anti-biotic resistance.
A new company BLIS Technologies Ltd has been formed by Dunedin company Otago Trust Limited and a group investors, including Southern Capital Limited and international participants, to pursue the commercial development of the discovery.
University of Otago Director of Commercial Development Mr John Scandrett, announcing the discovery today said that the University had concluded an agreement with BLIS Technologies Ltd to transfer the technology and patent rights to that company.
Under the agreement the University has agreed to sell 50 per cent of its rights in the technology and has granted BLIS a world-wide exclusive licence to the University's remaining 50 per cent interest in the technology. The University will receive a substantial payment and a share of the future royalties.
BLIS Technologies Limited also has the right to acquire a first right of refusal to other BLIS producing organisms discovered at the University over the next ten years.
Negotiations are currently under way with a number of organisations including multi-national companies for the commercialisation of the discovery.
University Vice Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg said today the discovery and commercial potential was an exciting development, "Professor Tagg and his team and believe this discovery has huge worldwide potential."
The company's representatives agree and say that the discovery is potentially one of the most important health discoveries by NZ Universities in decades, which creates major world-wide health benefits and commercial opportunities. The potential financial return is enormous, which will obviously be good for us, and will showcase the University and Dunedin as a centre of leading bio-tech research and development.
"It is a direct reflection on the quality of Otago's bio- technology research and development programme".