Hawaii Summit to Highlight Marine Biotechnology Discoveries, Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 6, 2006) -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will host the Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Jan. 11-13, 2006 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa in Honolulu. The Summit features a series of panel discussions on marine biotechnology and bioprospecting, presenting research on the use of marine biotechnology in industrial applications.

“The world’s oceans are home to thousands of marine organisms representing great genetic diversity. These billions of previously unexplored genes containing the blueprints for millions of chemical compounds and unique physical structures are an important natural resource that can be developed for the benefit of mankind,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section.

“The interface between marine biotech and industrial biotech is producing new and very exciting opportunities for novel manufacturing and industrial applications, as well as ways to protect our food supply and to enforce our marine environmental laws.

“Recent exploratory research demonstrates the great potential for utilizing the biochemical capabilities of marine organisms to provide models for new classes of pharmaceuticals, polymers, enzymes, other chemical products, and industrial processes, as well as for development of vaccines, diagnostic and analytical reagents,” Erickson added.

A few of the panel discussions in the marine biotechnology program include the following topics:

Soft Coral Yields Wound-Healing Wonder
Friday, January 13, Track 3, 3:45pm

Scientists at Southern California-based Terosin Group have shown that a unique class of drugs derived from ocean coral can substantially improve tissue repair and healing for severe burn victims. Terosin Group’s Robert Jacobs reports the successful results of a phase II clinical study of the drug, pseudopterosin a-methyl ether (TMO), and discusses new research that may explain how TMO works its wonders.

Sea Creatures Soak Up CO2 from Power Plant Smokestacks
Friday, January 13, Track 2, 9:00am

Carbon Dioxide is one of the trickiest by-products of electricity production from coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. Growing concentrations of CO2 have been blamed for rising global temperatures and increasingly destructive tropical storms. Miguel Olaizola of Hawaii-based Mera Pharmaceuticals presents exciting new research on the use of algae and other marine microorganisms to capture and sequester CO2 and other polluting gases.

Algae May Hold Key to Hydrogen Economy
Friday, January 13, Track 1, 2:00pm

Researchers from Princeton University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report important advances in the use of algae and other marine organisms in potentially pollution-free production of hydrogen fuel. Charles Dismukes of Princeton and NREL’s Maria Ghirardi outline recent results that suggest that algae may one day replace the gas pump.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.