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REF NO.: 197

SUBJECT: Memorial's GENESIS Group boosts local bio-tech to international scene

DATE: July 3

(click for large version)
(click for large version)
Several Newfoundland biotechnology companies participated in the Atlantic Canada Biotechnology Alliance Pavilion at BIO 2003 in Washington, D.C. the event took place from June 23-June 25, 2003. BIO is the world's largest conference and exhibition of biotechnology. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the three maritime provincial governments provided financial support for the exhibition pavilion.

Two Newfoundland companies reported excellent results from the event. The GENESIS Group, the technology commercialization arm of Memorial University, signed a significant licensing deal with BTG International. Memorial researchers, Dr. Hu Liu, Dr. Lili Wang and Wu Xiao, of Memorial's School of Pharmacy, have developed a new radio-imaging probe designed to identify plaque lesions associated with atherosclerosis. "This new technology combined with simple CT scan readings can identify the presence of coronary lesions and pinpoint the location and stage of progression of the disease," said David King, president and CEO of Memorial's GENESIS Group. "This discovery is very promising for diagnosing coronary artery disease, a leading cause of heart attack and death. This test would replace the very invasive "dye test" currently in use."

BTG International is a multi-million dollar organization with operations in Europe and the USA.

BTG is similar to a venture capital company, except that it invests in technologies, not companies. BTG reviews hundreds of technologies a year but invests in less than 15 percent of them. BTG is known for the commercialization of the MRI and the hovercraft.

GENESIS Group will receive up-front payments and royalties on sales of the technology. BTG has also agreed to a Canada First clause which will seek to commercialize the technologies through Canadian companies.

Paula Clarke, technology commercialization officer with GENESIS, said this is a win/win deal for everyone. "Society will get a new tool in the fight against heart disease, the university will get a revenue stream for use in further research and BTG will launch another commercial success but will do so in partnership with Canadian companies," she said.

Aqua Bounty Farms, Inc., a company created to commercialize technology licensed by the GENESIS Group, signed a venture deal at BIO 2003, which will inject new capital valued at several million Canadian dollars into the company. Aqua Bounty's lead product, a rapidly-growing Atlantic salmon that reaches harvest size twice as quickly as conventionally farmed fish, is already under regulatory review at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company is currently performing late-stage regulatory studies for submission to the FDA in 2003. "Our GENESIS-licensed innovation could revolutionize productivity in the global aquaculture industry and could yield important conservation benefits by reducing fishing pressure on wild fish populations," said Dr. Garth Fletcher, president and CEO of Aqua Bounty Canada.

Ian Edwards, chairman of the Newfoundland Association of Technical Industries, the province's knowledge based industry association, said "these exciting developments are testimony to the great potential of our biotechnology industry."

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