Healthcare & Lifescience Talking Points | 05/01/2018


In today’s talking points: Chinese pharmaceutical companies offer global competition; Australian scientists make breakthrough malaria discovery; New surgical glue to revolutionise treatment; Australian company first to begin exporting banana flour 


China’s pharmaceutical industry on the rise

Chinese drug manufacturers are playing a larger role than ever on a global scale as part of China’s economic transformation. Jonathan Wang, senior managing director of healthcare investment fund OrbiMed Asia says it is only a matter of time until Chinese pharmaceutical companies can directly compete with American giants. Manufacturers are increasingly focussing on quality and innovation following the Chinese Food and Drug Administration’s crackdown on low-quality drugs in 2015. Chinese company Chi-Med, which has been producing cancer drugs since 2005, currently has 3 new products up for regulatory approval, which, if accepted, will be the first time a Chinese company has produced a new drug since the malaria fighting artemisinin in 1970.

Read more at: New York Times


Australian scientists make breakthrough malaria discovery

After decades of research, Australian scientists now know exactly how the Plasmodium vivax (P.vivax) malaria parasite is passed from mosquitoes to humans. Mosquitoes infect humans with the disease when they inject infected parasites into the human bloodstream via their bite, however, P.vivax only infects young red blood cells. Scientists saw this in the 1930s, but were not able to molecularly understand the process until now. Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham’s team of international scientists discovered that in order to enter the bloodstream the P.vivax parasite must first latch on to a particular protein that carries iron to young red blood cells. After discovering the role of the protein in the infection process, scientists developed antibodies to disrupt the process. Scientists hope that in knowing how to stop P.vivax from entering young red blood cells, they may now be able to develop a vaccine for the virus. Of the 216 million cases of Malaria in 2016, 445,000 resulted in death and 16 million of those deaths were caused by the P.vivax parasite.

Read more at: The Australian


Australian scientists’ surgical breakthrough

Australian scientists have invented a new surgical glue capable of sealing internal and external wounds in under 60 seconds. The glue is made from Tropoelastin, a naturally occurring protein within the body and the precursor to elastin, which is essential for allowing tissue to stretch and contract. As an exact copy of this naturally occurring protein, the glue, called MeTro, is accepted by the body’s immune system, unlike other synthetic alternatives, and activates the healing process. Professor Anthony Weiss of the Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney University, part of the team behind the invention, states MeTro will be ground-breaking in emergency response situations, allowing for life threatening wounds to be treated quickly and effectively.

Read more at: Australia Unlimited


Queensland banana growers who accidentally discovered nutritious banana flour hope to increase exports to Asia in 2018

The Australian company Natural Evolution is the first of its kind to produce and export banana flour. By accident, banana growers Rob and Krista Watkins discovered that banana flesh could be dehydrated and turned into nutritious and gluten-free alternative flour. As a result, Natural Evolution was born and after further testing, the Watkins learned that the flour was also the world’s richest source of resistant starch. The Watkins spent two years refining their production process and began exporting in July 2017. Since then Asian markets have shown increasing demand for the flour and with an export market now firmly established in Japan, Natural Evolution hopes to tap into South Korean and Chinese markets.

Read more at: Austrade