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Australia Opens Doors to World’s Largest Exotic Nature Bank at BIO 2007

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More than 57 Australian exhibitors are at BIO 2007, part of Australia's 400-strong delegation. Among these are some of the most innovative research centres and universities in the region such as Griffith University which is launching its “Nature Bank”, a bank of more than 400,000 compounds from plants and marine invertebrates ready for drug trials.

The “Nature Bank” [Queensland Compound Library], which has taken more than 10 years to assemble, features compound samples collected from flora and fauna across Australia’s tropical north including the famous Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, parts of China and the remote and largely untouched tropical forests of Papua New Guinea.

Invest Australia’s Senior Investment Commissioner for North America, Fred Welz, said the Australia Pavilion at BIO 2007 showcased some of the most attractive investment and partnering opportunities from our world renowned research centres and innovative biotech firms.

The Nature Bank was just one example of the rich vein of opportunities available to US biotechs and pharmas who cast their net across the Pacific to Australia for drug candidates, medical devices and world class R&D.

Project leader Professor Ron Quinn of Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies at Australia’s Griffith University said Australia’s bizarre flora and fauna had evolved in isolation from the world for millennia, creating a unique biodiversity hot-spot.

Professor Quinn said naturally-occurring biological products were a better ‘fit’ with biology of the human body than many synthetic substances, and were still the main medicines used by 80 per cent of the world's population.

"Many of the world’s leading drugs are natural product derived. The cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin (AltocorTM) was derived from a fungus. The next generation drug atorvastatin (LipitorTM) is the world’s largest selling drug and is synthesised in a lab.”

“Another example is the breast cancer drug paclitaxel (TaxolTM), which was derived from the stripped bark of the Pacific Yew tree," said Professor Quinn.

Welz notes that Australia was ranked first in the Asia-Pacific as a biotech location, and Australia's intellectual property protection is world class. Its patent and copyright enforcement regime is ranked second best in the Asia-Pacific and sixth worldwide and ahead of the US.