Volume 8 Number 5, September/October 1998, pp. 258 -316
Editorial, News, BIO '99, Public Perceptions, Bio Shares, ABA News, Victorian
Fermentation Interest Group, Asian News, Biocomputing, Book reviews, Meetings and
Sizes of Files:
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FROM THE EDITOR
As we progress towards major changes in the way in which the ABA operates, and
perhaps even changes in its aims, the journal will not be isolated from these changes.
This journal has had a policy until now which contained these key elements:
- A mix of news and contributed papers
- Papers to be no more than four pages (with exceptions)
- Use of two-colour except for the outside covers (to contain costs)
- Acceptance of up to ten pages of advertising
- A push to increase Asian news
- Incorporation of New Zealand news and articles on an equal footing with Australian
We have been reluctant to burden readers with a readership questionnaire, mainly because
of the very small proportion of readers who will complete such questionnaires. However, we
do need to know what sections of the journal readers most appreciate and want.
Government's New Initiative on Biotechnology
Biotechnology Task Force
The Department of Industry, Science & Tourism will establish a Biotechnology Task
Force to advise the Government on strategies for development of the Australian biotechnology
Leg Ulcers and Biotech Australia's PAI-2
Relief for sufferers of leg ulcers is a step nearer following encouraging early clinical
trials of a new product, PAI-2, by the Sydney-based company Biotech Australia.
World Leading New Australian Drug Technology
An exciting new drug discovery technology was recently revealed as the corner-stone
of an $A10 million, two-year agreement signed by AMRAD Corporation Limited and the
Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cellular Growth Factors.
Amendment to the Food Standards Code
Foods Produced Using Gene Technology Standard A18
ANZFA's recommendation on a new joint standard for the regulation of foods produced
using gene technology (Standard 18) was considered by State, Territory and New Zealand
health ministers in their capacity as the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council
(ANZFSC) on 30 July 1998. ANZFSC agreed to accept the new standard at that meeting.
Food Council Welcomes Regulation Proposals
"At last Australia will have regulations to govern genetically modified food that provide
the public with confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place."
Queensland to Host World Technology Expo
Australia's largest ever technology expo and conference - Technology '99 will be held on
Queensland's Gold Coast in October next year, the first of what organisers expect to become
an annual event.
Australia Participates in New Belgium-Based Agbiotech Company
Research by scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) forms a key part of a
new international start-up company based in Belgium which has successfully raised venture
capital of US$5 million for innovative research on agricultural crops. In return for ANU's
contribution, ANUTECH Pty Ltd, the commercial arm of the ANU will become a shareholder
of the new company.
Victoria Appoints New Principal Science Adviser
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Mark Birrell, announced on 17 August the
appointment of Professor Graham Mitchell as the State's Principal Adviser for Science,
Engineering and Technology policy.
University of Queensland Careers Fair
A very successful Science and Engoineering Careers Fair was held in Mayne Hall at the
University of Queensland on August 3. Over 60 employers and academic departments were in
attendance, and students from the Faculties of Engineering, Physical Sciences and
Architecture, and Biological and Chemical Sciences attended to view the range of careers
options available after graduation.
Japanese Study of Synsorb-Pk
Calgary - Synsorb Biotech Inc., has received a preliminary report from Takeda Chemical
Industries, Ltd on the completed clinical study of Synsorb Pk® performed in Japan last
year. Takeda has concluded that the product was safe when co-administered with antibiotics.
EU Biotech Funded
The European Commission has launched the European Plant Biotechnology Network,
which will receive funding of ECU426,000 (US$472,860) from the EU. The aim of the EPBN
is to promote networking between the laboratories working on EU-funded research projects
and to facilitate the dissemination and commercialization of results during the fifth round of
funding for biotech research. The EU currently funds 45 different projects in plant
biotechnology, involving 394 laboratories in 20 countries, which focus on improved products
for health, stress tolerance, and disease resistance. During the fourth round of research
funding, which recently closed, the EC funded 154 biotechnology research projects with a
of ECU533.23 million (US$591.9 million).
Novartis Argicultural Discovery Institute
The Novartis Research Foundation is planning to invest $600 million over the next ten
years to fund the creation and upkeep of the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute
The creation of the foundation is a strategic move to optimize cross-business synergies in
genomics research within the agribusiness and pharmaceuticals industries.
FDA Addresses Use of Antibiotic Resistance Marker Genes
The Food and Drug Administration has issued draft guidance entitled "Use of Antibiotic
Resistance Marker Genes in Transgenic Plants: Guidance for Industry" and a report entitled
"Report on Consultations Regarding Use of Antibiotic Resistance Marker Genes In
Plants." FDA is making both documents available for public comment.
The Royal Society Reports on GM Issues and Regulations
The latest development in the ongoing European debate concerning genetically modified
(GM) crops is a report from a special working group of the Royal Society, a highly respected
and influential scientific organization in the UK. The report entitled "Genetically Modified
Plants for Food Use" is the product of a number of prominent experts in a variety of fields. It
concisely reviews current regulatory controls both in the UK and in Europe, and addresses
questions of gene transfer from GM crops, other specific concerns of environmental harm, and
issues related to GM plants as food. Posssible future developments are also discussed with
suggested revisions to the current regulatory system.
Sugar Beets Engineered to Produce Healthier Sugar
Dutch scientists have developed a new sugar beet that produces fructan, a low calorie
sweetener and a healthier alternative to sucrose. Reporting in the September issue of Nature
Biotechnology, researchers at the Center for Plant Breeding and Reproduction Research at
Wageningen describe how they developed "fructan beets" by inserting a single gene from
Jerusalem artichoke that encodes an enzyme for converting sucrose to fructan. The new
beet has the potential to replace more expensive fermentation methods of producing low
molecular weight fructans, which are nearly as sweet as regular sugar but indigestible by
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has today decided to award the 1998
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Robert F Furchgott, Louis J Ignarro and
Ferid Murad for their discoveries concerning "nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded The 1998 Nobel Prize in
Chemistry in the area of quantum chemistry to Walter Kohn, University of California at Santa
Barbara, USA and John A. Pople, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA (British
Development of computational methods in chemistry awarded
Researchers have long sought methods for understanding how bonds between the atoms
molecules function. With such methods it would be possible to calculate the properties of
molecules and the interplay between them. The growth of quantum mechanics in physics at the
beginning of the 1900s opened new possibilities, but applications within chemistry were long
coming. It was not practically possible to handle the complicated mathematical relations of
quantum mechanics for such complex systems as molecules.
Biological Informatics held on 6-8 July 1998 at the Australian Academy of Science,
In the carefully phrased world of science, few predictions are so boldly stated. Yet
Professor Sir Robert May, Chief Scientist of the UK, told the attendees at the Australian
Academy of Science-sponsored Conference on Biological Informatics that "there will be
winners, and there will be losers" among nations as the world moves into the next century. Sir
Robert underscored statements that have been made by other international leaders. "The next
century will be the `Age of Biology', just as this one has been an age of physics and
Specifically, those countries who best know how to correlate, analyze, and communicate
biological information will be in the leading position to achieve economic and scientific
Austrade offers Australian Biotechnology a Major International Industry Development
The Australian Trade Commission in San Francisco assists Australian life sciences and
information technology companies with US business development. The range of services
provided includes market research, identification of distributors and strategic partners,
company appointments, business plans, and trade show participation. Austrade also advises
companies about investment opportunities in Australia, as well as contract
R&D/manufacturing and clinical trial capabilities in the biotech and medical areas.
Poisonous Potatoes cause a stir about Genetic Foods in Scotland
The internationally-renowned Rowett Research Institute has been severely embarrassed by
the premature release of data on TV, which resulted in public outcry. It was only reported in
brief in Australian news media.
Flu Diagnostic Distribution Agreement for Europe-United Kingdom
Biota Holdings Limited announced in early September that it has signed an
agreement for the distribution of its influenza diagnostic, AB FLU OIA®, in Europe,
including the United Kingdom.
Biota Releases Preliminary Final Announcement
Biota Holdings Limited recently lodged its results for the year ended 30 June 1998.
1997/98 Financial Results
Research and Development
AMRAD's core business of pharmaceutical research and development progressed in line
with its value-adding strategy during 1997/98, achieving a number of important milestone.
The results achieved by AMRAD's trading businesses, AMRAD Pharmaceuticals and
AMRAD Biotech, exceeded, in total, the earnings targets for 1997/98.
Bell Scientific Industries - New Business
This new business will provide a range of biotechnological services including consultancy.
Freehills Patent Attorneys Announces New Partners
John Davy, Melbourne
John Davy joins FPA Melbourne with more than 20 years' experience in protecting and
managing intellectual property issues for a large and diverse Australian chemical company.
Paul Jones, Melbourne
Paul Jones is a Registered Patent Attorney with more than 25 years' experience, having
practised in all areas of international patent and trade mark law.
Paul Savage, Sydney
Paul Savage joined FPA Sydney earlier this year. Over the past six years, his practice has
focussed on advising clients in a wide range of technologies including mining, hydraulic,
general mechanical, software development and fluid dynamics technologies.
Debra Tulloch, Melbourne
Debra Tulloch is a Registered Patent Attorney and joined FPA Melbourne in August this
County/NHMRC Partnership Sets Stage for World-First Medical Research Investment
A ground-breaking new investment opportunity for Australian superannuation funds
moved closer to fruition recently, with the announcement of a partnership between County
Investment Management and the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to
co-operate in the development of a pioneering new Medical Research Investment Fund.
Covering Australian Biotechnology Stocks - compiled by M.J. Playne
The ABA: A New Direction
Below we present a summary of changes which are being considered for
implementation by the Directors of the ABA. In the next six issues, the journal will provide all
readers and members of the ABA an opportunity to respond, to comment and to present
alternative directions for the ABA. This is your opportunity to have your voice on the future
the ABA. The article below provides a strong base for that forum. It's now up to you, dear
Victorian Fermentation Special Interest Group
Postgraduate Young Speakers Competition 11 June 1998
Abstracts of Presentations
The winning speaker was Andrew Barber whose abstract is submitted, together with
the two runners-up.
Stimulatory Effects of Acetaldehyde in Microbial Fermentations by Andrew
Reactor Studies in the Decolourisation of Wastewaters by Pycnoporus
cinnabarinus by Kirsten Schliephake
The Optimisation of Pullulan Production by Aureobasldium pullulans in Batch
Culture by Brad Campbell
Annual General Meeting
This was held in Melbourne at the Brew House (CUB) in Abbotsford on 22nd
September, 1998. We thank the CUB and their staff for providing a very pleasant venue and
for their generous hospitality. The meeting was attended by 30 members.
Malaysia to host FAOBMB Congress
Malaysia will play host to the 8th FAOBMB (Federation of Asian and Oceanian
Biochemists and Molecular Biologists) Congress in Kuala Lumpur from 22-26 November,
1998. An interesting and varied scientific programme on all aspects of biochemistry and
molecular biology have been planned, comprising of plenary sessions, symposia and colloquia
(to be selected from submitted abstracts). Poster sessions and a scientific trade exhibition will
also be organized. Plenary speakers include B. Blumberg (U.S.A.), C. Pallen (IMCB,
Singapore), W. Tate (Otago, New Zealand), J. Harwood (united Kingdom), D. Grierson
(United Kingdom) and E. Tamiya (Japan).
Third Malaysian National Genetics Congress
The Third National Congress on Genetics will be held at the National University of
Malaysia in Bangi, Selangor from November 18-19, 1998 just before the FAOBMB Congress
Malaysian biotechnology effort showing good progress
A local Malaysian biotechnology company, TropBio Research has shown good
progress since its establishment in 1995.
MARDITECH offers biotechnology commercialisation
The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) has
established a marketing arm called MARDITECH which is now set to boost the country's food
and agriculture industry by offering 11 of its latest research findings for commercialisation.
Seventh Pacific Rim Biotechnology Congress in The Year 2000
Following on the successful completion of the Sixth Pacific Rim Biotechnology
Congress (PRBC) and Bioexpo `98 in Hong Kong in June, 1998, planning is now underway
for the Seventh PRBC to be held in Vancouver, B.C., Canada from November 13-18, 2000.
Liberalisation of the Equity Policy in the Manufacturing Sector
The Minister of International Trade and Industry announced changes to the current
policy on equity for the manufacturing sector, applicable from 31 July 1998 to 31 December
2000. These changes are to effect flexibility in the equity holdings of investors, both local and
foreign, in all areas of manufacturing, with the exception of specific activities and products*
where Malaysians and Malaysian companies already have the capabilities and expertise.
Full-Text Journal Articles on the Internet
The information superhighway has done much lately to divert traffic away from the
campus library. Many scientists and students visit the virtual library right on their desktops to
read scientific papers in their favorite journals. Whether you are in Topeka or Tbilisi, browsing
through a new scientific paper in the magazine Science is just a few mouse clicks away! Most
publishers are racing to place their journals on the Internet where one can not only read
complete scientific articles but also jump to cited papers in the title, connect to the nucleic acid
or protein databases, and even e-mail the authors instantly. The awesome power of the
Internet thus goes beyond providing simple electronic access of published text to pack more
punch in journal reading.
Graphics of Environmental Releases Data Now Available
Charts and maps that summarize key information from the Environmental Releases
databases have been added to the ISB website. The graphics complement ISB's web-based
program for searching the complete set of field test and deregulatory petition records from
USDA/APHIS. The graphics are automatically generated each time ISB receives an update
from USDA/APHIS, and thus present the most current data available.
Medical Research Investment Fund
A new Internet website has been established to allow potential investors and medical
researchers to participate in the development of the proposed Medical Research Investment
Website of Bacterial Names
A new website entitled "List of bacterial names with standing in nomenclature" is
Annotated List of Websites (continued from August issue)
Microbiological Resource Centers: MIRCENs
A Resource for Global Cooperation
In 1972, the United Nations called for the establishment of centres for the
preservation and use of microbial resources. In 1984, pilot centres (called MIRCENs) were
established in Brazil, Egypt, Guatemala, Kenya, Senegal and Thailand. Currently, there are 31
MIRCENs in 25 countries including a Biotechnology Mircen in Brisbane.
Scitech Technology Directory
A Comprehensive Guide to Technology and Industry Development Assistance
1998 Edition (12th Edition) by Jane Ford
This directory remains one of the highlights of the science information scene in Australia.
First published in 1986, this twelfth edition retains all the good features of previous editions.
FDA Plans Biotech Meeting
The Food and Drug Administration's Office of Science is organising the 1998 FDA
Science Forum on Biotechnology: Advances, Applications, and Regulatory Challenges. The
Forum will bring FDA research and review scientists together with representatives of industry,
academia, government agencies, consumer groups, and the public to discuss the impact of the
enormous advances in biotechnology on product development and regulation. The meeting
be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 8 and 9, 1998 at the Washington Convention
Center, Washington, DC.
AgBiotech Industry Conference
14-15 January, 1999
San Francisco, California, USA
Molecular Screening of Individuals at High-Risk of Developing Cancer: Medical,
Ethical, Legal and Social Issues
19-21 March, 1999
European Lactose Symposium
25-26 March, 1999
Australian Plant Breeding Conference
19-23 April, 1999
California-Australia Biotech Partnering Meeting
12-14 May, 1999
BIO '99 - 16-20 May, 1999
9th European Congress on Biotechnology
11-15 July, 1999
Asia-Pacific Biochemical Engineering Conference 1999
15-18 November, 1999
Biotechnology 2000: 11th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition of
3-8 September, 2000
7th Pacific Rim Biotechnology Congress
13-18 November, 2000
New Fermenter Control Offers Environmental and Economic Benefits
A new concept in fermenter control has been announced by domnick hunter which
provides cost savings and environmental benefits by integrating, into the one process,
such as separation of off-gases and control of foaming.
State-of-the-Art System Puts Clyde-Apac in Control
Clyde-Apac's upcoming release of a state-of-the-art electronic control system will
further strengthen the company's reputation as Australia's leading manufacturer of laminar
ABA OFFICE BEARERS
Copyright 1998 Australian Biotechnology Association Ltd.