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NZ bio-tech discovery promises big returns

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Monday 4th September 2000

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A new way to fight throat infections is being touted as one of the most important health discoveries by New Zealand universities in decades, and a new company has been formed to pursue its commercial development.

Scientists at the the University of Otago have discovered an anti-bacterial protein called Salivaricin B, which can prevent or control streptococcal throat infections.

The protein is produced by a micro-organism in the mouth saliva of some people and gives them a natural immunity.

The university says international patent applications have been filed for the discovery, which was found after years of research.

A new company called BLIS Technologies Ltd has been formed by Dunedin company OtagoTrust and a group investors, including Southern Capital, to look at the commercial prospects for the development.

The university has agreed to sell half its rights in the technology and has granted BLIS a world-wide exclusive licence to the other half. Under the agreement the university will get a substantial payment and a share of the future royalties.

Negotiations are under way with a number of organisations, including multi-national companies, for the commercialisation of the discovery.

University Vice Chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg, says the discovery and its commercial potential are an exciting development.

"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."

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