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A Year of Highlights for Biotech Industry


A Year of Highlights for Biotech Industry

If we look back at some of the positive news stories in the biotech sector over the past 12 months, it becomes clear that this is an industry on the rise, NZBio CEO Brian Ward says. “In June we celebrated the news that Proacta had successfully raised $12.7 million for the development of its unique cancer therapy, from the local venture capital market as well as international interests. This was a significant milestone for the development of New Zealand’s place in the global biotech industry.

“In August Protemix Corporation announced that its product, Laszarin™, appears to reverse heart disease in people suffering from diabetes. If successful in Phase 3 trials, Laszarin™ has a potential worldwide market of over two million people with diabetic heart failure.” The country’s ag-bio industries are also going from strength-to-strength, with substantial investment in R&D from the pastoral sector, Mr Ward added.

“The number of companies benefiting from New Zealand’s ongoing investment into Lactoferrin research is growing. Fonterra has opened a new processing plant in the Waikato, which will provide a major new dimension to its value-add manufacturing capability. Tatua has developed specialized equipment for extracting, purifying and freeze-drying lactoferrin from milk, and in alliance with Tatura Milk in Victoria, will export to Asia. And Lactopharma looks set to benefit from recent work by Dr Jill Cornish at Auckland University, after confirmation that lactoferrin is a potent stimulator of bone growth.

“The country’s Crown Research Institutes continue to produce internationally competitive science, with HortResearch licensing Alphatech Systems to commercialise its plant tissue disintegrator technology worldwide; Crop & Food Research developing a precision breeding technique for plants using the tools of genetic engineering but without introducing foreign DNA; and IRL’s involvement in a R&D project with NZ Pharmaceuticals that will deliver the building blocks to develop new drugs for the prevention and treatment of life threatening diseases. AgResearch has also introduced genetic tests for milk production, and their research contribution to Ovita has delivered products to improve meat production and reduce the impacts of internal parasites.

“These achievements form part of a bigger picture that is this country’s increasingly strong biotech sector. It is obvious that the world sees the potential in New Zealand biotech. There have been some impressive financial commitments to the industry’s development, including the Queensland Government’s announcement that it will invest $6.58 million over the next five years in Life Science Ventures.”

As the New Zealand biotech sector’s industry body, NZBio expects the coming year will see even more interest, growth and success.

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