Government gives Biopharma a nod

1 Apr 2019 - 13:45

Professor Ed Rybicki, the Director of the Biopharming Research Unit of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Molecular and Cell Biology Department, and member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) has received an award which he says, acknowledges their long history in creating intellectual property (IP) at UCT.

The National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) together with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have recognised UCT’s Research Contracts and Innovation Office (RC&I) with an award for the Top Intellectual Property Creator at UCT – for disclosures and patent applications made between 2011 and 2018.

Rybicki explains that the award covers: “… work on plant-made vaccines against human papillomaviruses, bluetongue and African horse sickness viruses, HIV Env protein as a vaccine, and horse radish peroxidase as a reagent.” He says that it’s an important accolade as it acknowledges the creation of IP at UCT – particularly IP protection for plant-made recombinant proteins. It also means more visibility in the country’s wider biotechnology space.

For Rybicki it’s important to recognise his co-inventors; Inga Hitzeroth and Ann Meyers. The RC&I’s Piet Barnard (Director) and Andrew Bailey (Senior Manager: Innovation) also assisted him in obtaining the IP protection for his research. Which is why the professor has thanked the team – “for aiding and abetting our efforts”.

The accompanying R605 000 grant to the RC&I will assist in driving IP towards products. He adds, “(It) will make it possible to visit prospective industrial partners - in the US and Canada and elsewhere – as well as to maintain patents, and possibly even to add to work necessary to show the viability of certain patent applications.”