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REF NO.: 309

SUBJECT: Biotech rocks for Newfoundland students

DATE: April 26

Budding scientists from Newfoundland and Labrador will get the opportunity to show their skills during the seventh annual Aventis Biotech Challenge. Junior and high school students will present their findings on a variety of topics from development of an alternative use for shrimp shell waste to helping cancer patients cope with chemotherapy at Biotech Rocks, the theme for this year’s challenge. The competition hosted by Genesis Group, the technology transfer arm of Memorial University, will take place from April 27-28, in the National Research Council - Institute for Ocean Technology Building, Memorial University of Newfoundland campus.

Held each year in 13 sites across Canada, the competition is part of a national campaign to promote science education and job opportunities in the growing field of biotechnology. Student teams are given the opportunity to work with a mentor who is currently working in their field of interest and to compete for a total of $5,750 in prizes.

Some examples of the student’s research include:

· Justin Ropson and Courtney Tetford, from Lewisporte, have been extracting a protein from shrimp shells left over from processing. They added the extract to fish food pellets to see if fish would be attracted by the substance. If the fish are attracted by the extract then this could substantially improve the effectiveness of bait now used in the fishery.

  • Jenny Wen and Sarah Entwisle, from St. John’s have been looking at whether some common herbal remedies can reduce the ill effects of chemotherapy treatment,

  • Shelia Parai, also from St. John’s, investigated the use of an herb commonly used in another part of the world to see if it can be used in treating the common cold.

  • Student, Sherif Rizk, from Menihek High School, in Labrador City, has been investigating if the local partridgeberry useful in treating urinary tract infections.

An alternative for fluoride in toothpaste, an environmentally friendly method to ripen fruit, green tea sun block and non-toxic hair dye are some of the other topics students will be exploring in the 2005 Aventis Biotech Challenge.

Aventis Biotech Challenge will be open to the public from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 28. Winners will be announced at a reception held at 8 p.m. at the National Research Council - Institute for Ocean Technology Buildingon Memorial’s St. John’scampus. Media agencies are encouraged to send representatives.

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For more information, contact Cynthia Brown, biotechnology co-ordinator, GENESIS Group, (709)737-2682 or


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