Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting

Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting

Wednesday November 24 2004

Explorers From The Frontiers Of Science Reveal Latest International Biotech Research

Leading international biotechnology researchers from the frontline of Science will gather next week for the 14th Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting (QMB) from November 28 to December 1, one of the most significant annual scientific meetings in New Zealand.

Over 220 scientists, many international experts in their field, will reveal the latest developments in the fast-developing world of Molecular Biology. The growth of biotechnology world-wide, one of the keystones of the knowledge economy, has been underpinned by half a century of innovative research in the relatively new science of Molecular Biology. This research finally resulted in the mapping of the human genome in 2001, a major breakthrough in enhanced understanding of disease and the development of all life forms.

The QMB is particularly exciting because it covers issues such as beating antibiotic resistance, understanding enhanced fertility, blocking Alzheimers and Parkinson’s with anti-inflammatory drugs, horizontal gene transfer, the use of IT in the new Biology and how stress affects cells.

“This year’s meeting is about molecular mechanisms in cell biology, and will produce a range of fascinating stories from over 20 international scientists and N.Z. researchers. The focus will be on understanding how cells behave when healthy or diseased, with applications for medicine and agriculture,” says Convenor, Dr Julian Eaton-Rye.

Molecular Biology, the study of chemical processes that underpin all life and cells, dates back to the 1940’s when it was discovered that DNA was the carrier of genetic information. Since then scientists have worked to uncover the secrets of DNA and the genome, and to use this for medical, plant and animal applications.

Molecular Biology is not about white-coated scientists hidden away in laboratories, but is revealing exciting and vital discoveries which affect our lives and the economy. This is an area in which many developed countries are investing heavily. Just a few examples are:

DNA fingerprinting in forensic sciences DNA diagnostics to identify micro-organisms for food safety. DNA diagnostics for identification and treatment of diseases in humans, animals and plants. DNA use for plant and animal breeding to select best strains and improve production.

More recently Molecular Biologists have been making major gains in gene therapy for disease, the modification of the expression of genes to understand how they work, and to confer new properties on an organism. Biotechnology is also used extensively for very practical purposes in such areas as food processing, and the production of specialised molecules on a large scale for therapeutic uses, e.g. insulin in treatment of diabetes

The Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting attracts leading international scientists, acting as a magnet for the entire Molecular Biology research community in N.Z. Its continuing success arises from the cross fertilisation of ideas, and the sharing of scientific methodology, over a range of research areas in the animal, human and plant sciences.

Some of the highlights at the three day international Meeting are:

Professor Kerry O’Banion. University of Rochester Medical School, New York. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are conditions which have serious health effects on thousands of New Zealanders. Neurologist, Professor O’Banion, is a world leader in using drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and brain inflammation from acute brain injury after accidents. His latest studies focus on the molecular pathways which can be blocked by drugs, thus reducing or preventing brain disorders like Alzheimer’s where inflammation is a common process.

Dr Thomas Proft. Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Auckland University. Thomas has made remarkable progress in understanding how ‘superbugs’, such as the antiobiotic resistant MRSA and the flesh-eating bacteria group A Streptococcus, invade the immune system and cause the potentially fatal condition called toxic shock. Toxic shock nearly killed TV presenter Lana CocKroft. The structure of the superantigen toxins produced by ‘superbugs’ has been solved by Dr Proft and his colleagues, allowing scientists to mutate the superantigens and control toxicity. This may eventually lead to a vaccine or new ways of treating cancer. Dr Proft is this year’s winner of the $7000 Invitrogen QMB Award for his research achievements.

Professor Jeff Errington. University of Oxford, UK An international expert in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is of growing concern to medical science. Professor Errington talks eloquently on this subject, and on his reasearch into the shape of bacteria and how this is controlled by proteins on the inside of the cell walls. Cell walls are the target of key antibiotics such as pencillin, cephalosporins and vancomycin. Understanding the cell wall is crucial in the battle against the growing health risks of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Dr Jennifer Juengel. AgResearch, Wallaceville, Upper Hutt Jennifer is researching sheep which have unusually high ovulation rates and thus increased lamb production. These elevated rates are caused by genetic mutations. This has led to a revolution in thinking about ovulation and exceptional fertility in all mammals. Further studies suggest that an unusual regulatory pathway affects these animals. Understanding these pathways is vital for the development of new fertility drugs, illustrating the cross-over between animal and human research.

Professor Janet Thornton. Director European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK. We now have access to the blueprint for life through the unravelling of the genome, not only for humans but increasingly other species. However this is producing a deluge of new biological information about genetics, and the interactions between molecules in the cell. This avalanche of information is the ‘new Biology’. It can only be controlled and analysed by computers and computer modelling or Bioinformatics. Professor Thornton is an international authority in using Bioinformatics to investigate how enzymes/proteins work, change shape, interact and regulate the development of bacteria. EBI is funded at approximately $28m per year by the EU and UK for this ground-breaking work.

For the full range of key speakers, programme, and further information on the Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting visit Abstracts are available beforehand from the Meeting Convenor.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Westpac: Sets Out Plan To Go Cheque-Free

Westpac NZ has announced details of its plan to phase out cheques, after signalling in May that it would be supporting a move to other forms of payment. Cheques will cease to be available as a means of payment after 25 June 2021. Westpac NZ General ... More>>


NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>


Economy: Double-Dip Recession Next Year, But Housing Rolls On

New Zealand's economy is expected to slip back into recession early next year as delayed job losses, falling consumer spending, and the absence of international tourists bites into growth. More>>


Microsoft New Zealand: Microsoft Expands “Highway To A Hundred Unicorns” Initiative To Support Startups In Asia Pacific

New Zealand, 14 October 2020 – Today Microsoft for Startups launches the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where 56 startups were ... More>>

Fonterra: Farmers Taking Another Step Towards New Zealand’s Low Emissions Food Production

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change. Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox. Over the last few ... More>>


Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>

University of Canterbury: Proglacial Lakes Are Accelerating Glacier Ice Loss

Lake Tasman, New Zealand | 2016 | Photo: Dr Jenna Sutherland Meltwater lakes that form at glacier margins cause ice to recede much further and faster compared to glaciers that terminate on land, according to a new study. But the effects of these glacial ... More>>


Dairy: Fonterra Sells China Farms

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners. Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited ... More>>