Volume 9 Number 1, March/April 1999, pp. 2-20
Editorial, News, Company News, Bio shares
FROM THE EDITOR
Journal in New Format for Year 2000 and Beyond
As part of the restructuring of the Australian Biotechnology Association and its new
direction for the coming millenium, we have been considering the future role of this journal.
Should it be solely a news journal, should it stay with its present 50:50 mix of science articles
and news, should it be an industry journal for lobbying politicians, should it evolve into a
magazine explaining the new technologies to the public, or should it cease to exist? A
number of factors, such as staff time and cost, revenue and membership numbers all affect
this decision. The following decision was taken, but it should be noted that it allows us a
great deal of flexibility in its implementation during 1999.
Government Embraces Biotechnology in New Budget
The 1999-2000 Budget speech of 11th May 1999 by The Hon. Peter Costello, Federal
Treasurer, announced major additional funding in health and medical research to be provided
through the NHMRC. New funds of $M614 over six years are to be provided.
Parallel to this welcome initiative for medical biotechnology research are new initiatives
Office of the Gene Technology Regulator
The Federal Government is to establish the Office of the Gene Technology
Regulator (OGTR) to regulate the application of gene technology. The OGTR will regulate
research in and applications of gene technology that are not covered by existing
regulators.The OGTR will operate under powers to be conferred through an
intergovernmental agreement and associated Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation.
Australians Seek Facts on Gene Technology
Australians are sending a strong message that they want more information about gene
technology and food, according to a national survey conducted by CSIRO.
New research into consumer attitudes suggests most Australians are willing to try gene-
modified foods provided they can see clear benefits.
California-Australia Biotech Partnering Conference
From Louise Batchelor - Austrade, San Francisco
Austrade have been very proactive in ensuring that there will be a strong presence
from Australian companies at the California biopartnering conference this May.
The updated Program for the California-Australia Biotech Partnering Conference in San
Diego is given below. On Day 1 we have arranged a compelling program of top speakers who
will give their overview on finance, legal, partnering and commercialization issues facing
bioscience companies today, and strategies to overcome them. Australia will be the focus of
a special hour presentation, and as part of the BIOCOM breakfast panel on international
opportunities. Australian biotechnology will very much be on the menu, thanks to the
generous contribution of Florigene Limited. The rich, vibrant, purple colour of 1,000
Florigene Moonshadow flowers will grace the BIOCOM breakfast tables on May 12th.
Bio 99 - 16-20 May, Seattle, Washington
Bio 99 is the world's largest biotechnology conference, and provides important US
exposure and international networking opportunities. Conference information is on www.bio.org.
Net News - A Letter to Biz-Biotech
I would like to point out that the "GMO industry" is not against labelling. GIBiP (Green
Industry Biotechnology Platform - http://www.gibip.org) an organisation representing 20
European companies active in plant biotechnology, supports labelling within the context of
the Novel Food Regulation (258/97/EU) and the Council Regulation 1139/98, and support
consumer choice. The industry position is that labelling is a food safety issue and that only
those products should be labelled which contain foreign DNA or proteins.
Distinguished Medical Researcher Appointed to Key National Health Position
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, recently announced the
appointment of Professor John Mathews as Head of the National Centre for Disease Control
(NCDC) located in the Population Health Division of the Department of Health and Aged
Care in Canberra.
Initiative to Develop Biotechnology Industries in North Queensland
The Parliamentary Secretary for Queensland's Department of State Development opened
a workshop on developing a biotechnology industry in the region. The workshop was held on
16 March at the Australian Institute for Marine Science's Caper Ferguson laboratories near
Dr Peter Murphy of AIMS marine bioproducts program said "This workshop is about
creating knowledge-based industries for the twenty-first century in North Queensland. North
Queensland's science expertise and the region's rich biodiversity can pave the way to
development of biotechnology industries in the region. As a centre of biodiversity,
particularly marine biodiversity, and with internationally recognised biotechnology research
at AIMS and James Cook University, North Queensland is poised to attract biotechnology
New Centre on Metals and Genetics Opens in Melbourne
The opening of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology at Deakin University in
February establishes a major international research centre for the study of the effect of heavy
metals on human health.
Headed up by Professor Julian Mercer, a world-renowned leader in the field of the
biology of copper, the centre also paves the way for a new course in human genetics that will
be offered by the Faculty of Science and Technology next year.
World Wide Genetics Research Projects Established in Australia
Glaxo Wellcome recently announced that it has signed agreements with three separate
Australian research centres to collaborate in the company's world wide program for
uncovering the genetic basis of disease.
Australia-European Commission Joint Science and Technology Cooperation
The fourth meeting of the Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee
(JSTCC), established under the S&T Agreement between Australia and the European
Community (EC), was held in Canberra on 3 March 1999.
Professor Jorma Routti, Director-General for Science, Research and Development, led
the European Commission delegation. Dr Paul Wellings, Head of the Science, Technology
and Innovation Division, Department of Industry, Science and Tourism, led the Australian
Australia Leads the World in Fisheries Management
Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, Mark Vaile, recently launched the
Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) report, Fishery Status Reports 1998: Resource
Assessments of Australian Commonwealth Fisheries, saying Australia continued to lead
the world in fisheries management.
Membrane Technology in Food and Bioprocessing
An intensive two day seminar on the fundamentals and recent developments of
Ultrafiltration in the Food and Bioprocessing Industries with Special Guest Presenter - Dr
Munir Cheryan of the University of Illinois, USA
Moreland City Council Drops Genetically Engineered Food
Moreland City Council is set to become Victoria's first local government and Australia's
second to oppose the use of genetically altered food. In its own services Council will work
towards a service that is free of genetically altered food and encourage child care centres and
other services to follow suit.
News from Malaysia
XXI IUFRO World Congress in Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has been selected as the venue for the 21st IUFRO
(International Union of Forestry Research Organizations) World Congress from August 7-12,
2000. The theme of this important congress is Forests and Society : The Role of Research
and 2000-3000 participants are expected to enjoy the varied and stimulating programme
of plenary, sub-plenary and specialist meetings. The congress will focus on five main
sessions : sustainable management of natural resources, forests and society's needs, changes
in environment and society, cultural diversity in forest management, and the global vision of
forest and society.
Improved version of typhoid diagnostic test
Typhoid fever remains as an important public health problem in many tropical
developing countries, exacerbated in recent times by the appearance of antibiotic-reistant
strains. Malaysian Biodiagnostics Research Pty. Ltd. (MBDR), Malaysia's first biodiagnostic
company has recently announced the availability of a new, more rapid version of the
diagnostic test kit for typhoid fever, TyphiDot, which they developed and marketed
several years ago.
Relenza Production Begins for Australian Winter
Australia passed another key milestone in the worldwide battle against the influenza
virus today with the opening of the first manufacturing facility for the flu treatment, Relenza
(zanamivir) at the Melbourne headquarters of Glaxo Wellcome Australia.
Relenza was recently recommended for approval by the Australian Drug Evaluation
Committee for marketing in Australia, thus clearing the way for the treatment to be available
on prescription throughout Australia during the coming winter.
Statement on FDA Advisory Committee Vote on Relenza7
Biota Holdings Limited has announced that the Food and Drug Administration's
(FDA) Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee has voted against recommending
Relenza7 (zanamivir for inhalation) -
a proposed new treatment for influenza type A and B - for FDA approval at this time.
Relenza was invented in Australia in the 1980s and licensed to Glaxo Wellcome by Biota.
Virax Announces Research Agreement with Macfarlane Burnet Centre for Medical
Virax has announced the signing of a Research Agreement with Macfarlane Burnet
Centre for Medical Research. The agreement supports further research in monkeys into the
application of the Company's Co-X-GeneTM technology for the treatment of HIV.
Monsanto Welcomes ANZFA Review
Monsanto Australia Limited recently welcomed the review of their application for the
use of food products from cotton and soybean crops improved through the application of
The New DSM Fine Chemicals
As from January 1 1999 onwards, the new DSM Fine Chemicals group will operate
under the following three trade names:
DSM Biologics [formerly Gist-brocades/Bio-Intermediair]
DSM Fine Chemicals [formerly DSM Chemie Linz and DSM Andeno
DSM Minera [formerly DSM Andeno (iodine/quinine)]
DSM Fine Chemicals' strategy can be characterized as `accelerated expansion", meaning
that production capacity and sales should grow at a much higher rate than the market. This
growth objective is to be realized through autonomous growth as well as through acquisions
Nobel Prize Winner Appointed to BresaGen Advisory Board
Australian Nobel Prize winner and 1997 Australian of the Year, Professor Peter
Doherty, has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of Adelaide Biotechnology
company, BresaGen Limited.
Tree Genes to be Patented for ForBio
ForBio, a specialist forest biotechnology company, is patenting several key genes
derived from trees. These are thought to be the first tree genes patented in Australia from a
gene discovery project.
AMRAD and Ludwig Institute Collaborate with Baxter Healthcare Corporation to
Develop New Heart Therapy
AMRAD Corporation Limited (ASX:AML) and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer
Research, have announced that rights to their respectively owned VEGF-B (vascular
endothelial growth factor B) protein patents and technology have been licensed for
collaborative development with Baxter Healthcare Corporation. AMRAD will be working
with Baxter to investigate the VEGF-B protein as a possible new approach to treating
patients with ischaemic heart disease, the leading cause of death in developed countries.
BioVentures Australia Commences Operations
$10 million commitment for technology opportunities
Start-up Australia and research Corporation Technologies (RCT) announced
recently the commencement of a joint venture, BioVentures Australia Pty Limited
("BioVentures Australia"), which will invest in life science and medical technologies
originating in Australia.
Genesis Expands Asthma Research
Auckland's Genesis Research and Development has announced that it has entered
into a long-term research collaboration with Stanford Rook Holdings, a London-based
biopharmaceutical company. The collaboration centres on using Mycobacterium vaccae
technology to develop an asthma vaccine.
Covering Australian Biotechnology Stocks - compiled by M.J. Playne
Copyright 1999 Australian Biotechnology Association Ltd.