Biotech centre to combat diseases

8 April 2008

The Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR), the first of its kind in South Africa, has opened at the University of Cape Town’s medical campus, giving local researchers a powerful new tool for combating a variety of diseases.

The centre is currently engaged in researching a new and improved molecular diagnostic marker of diseases such as malaria, leukemia and colorectal cancer, is conducting a search for markers of pathogen resistance in maize, as well as assessing of the possible health risks associated with the development of genetically modified plants, among others.

The centre combines an integrated technological approach with a strong focus on translating information-rich discoveries into practical applications.

“You should understand our excitement as we finally launch this cross-cutting facility, which will now take a pride of place in our national system of innovation,” said Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena, who officially opened the centre last week.

Mangena said the centre would provide advanced biological solutions and project support to the country’s scientific community, as well as high-quality analytical services to academia and industry.

The centre is to be a proactive driver of research and development in Southern Africa, aimed at directly boosting the biotechnology sector through building competitive research and development infrastructure.

Mangena pointed out that the centre was of crucial importance to both the national biotechnology strategy and individual scientists’ who conduct research at the same level as their international peers.

The technology platforms also provide positive benefits for the economy by encouraging plant and human biotechnology advances, and it is believed that the centre will empower researchers in the life science sector to convert scientific findings into practical applications.

“We also trust that the CPGR will develop mechanisms to communicate the concept of genomics and proteomics effectively, to engage the public in an informed dialogue,” he said. “We believe this will, in turn, stimulate economic growth in the life sciences and biotechnology sectors.”

Source: BuaNews