MoU signing between the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the ICGEB

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In the current context of vaccine nationalism, in which developing countries cannot afford highly-priced innovative medicines manufactured in the US and Europe, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering (ICGEB) is one of the organisations actively developing biotechnology innovations solely for the  benefit of the developing countries.

ICGEB was created by the United Nations in 1983 to facilitate biotechnology developments in the developing world. Its council of scientific advisors comprises some of the world’s top scientists, including Nobel prize-winners for medicine. It has three global centres — Trieste in Italy, New Delhi in India, and Cape Town in Africa.

Its Director-General Dr Lawrence Banks is signing an agreement with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Cape Town on Wednesday, witnessed by Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation. This ground-breaking agreement will see the university partnering with local companies to develop advanced biotherapeutics (biosimilars for the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, cancer and others).

The UKZN, represented by its Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation, Professor Mosa Moshabela, and the Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Ncoza Dlova, will be responsible for conducting clinical trials within the next year. This will allow for the first time access for poor people to these expensive lifesaving medicines. AfricaBio, through its President, Dr Nhlanhla Msomi, is facilitating this collaboration.

There will soon be other partnerships with the universities of Limpopo, Venda and Walter Sisulu (Eastern Cape), as the biotechnology innovation landscape is re-positioned to benefit the poor in a partnership that also includes local industry.

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