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Newsletter - February 2013

New on the Hub this term, we have further news articles that link and provide updates to earlier focus stories. These updates help keep our content current as well as illustrating the nature of science and technology. We also highlight some exciting new content coming soon.

Honey to heal – update

Honey to heal – Focus story
Honey to heal, one of our earlier focus stories, explores how honey heals wounds and what’s unique about Mānuka honey. It also looks at how Comvita processes Mānuka honey and the research and development and challenges involved in producing their first Mānuka honey wound dressing.

From bees to bandages – Information sheet
The first wound care product Comvita developed using their medical grade Mānuka honey was a wound dressing called ApinateTM. A major challenge for researchers was the sticky, runny consistency of the honey, which made it difficult to apply and keep on the wound.

Comvita products target different wound types – News item
On-going research has led to greater knowledge and understanding about the healing power of Mānuka honey, and scientists have discovered new ingredients to incorporate into the honey to change the consistency and concentration. This has enabled them to develop a range of new products that meet particular needs of different wound types.

This article updates our original focus story and illustrates the nature of science and technology. In particular, it highlights the tentative nature of scientific knowledge and how science and technology impact each other.

Pig cell transplants – update

Pig cell transplants – Focus story
Living Cell Technologies (LCT) is a New Zealand company at the forefront of xenotransplantation research. This focus story explores why and how they’re using pig cells to treat disease.

Preventing pig cell transplant rejection – Information sheet
Living Cell Technologies (LCT) encapsulates pancreatic pig cells inside a special coating before transplanting them into type 1 diabetics. This prevents the cells from being rejected by the patient’s immune system.

Human brain.

Pig cell to human brain transplant approved – News item
Living Cell Technologies has been granted permission by Minister of Health Tony Ryall for phase I clinical  trials involving transplanting specially coated pig cells into the human brain to treat Parkinson’s disease.

This article updates the Pig cell transplants focus story and illustrates how scientific knowledge is continually advancing and, in this case, enabling on-going improvements to technologies with potential to improve our quality of life.

Ethics and pig cell transplants – Student activity
In this activity, students use role-playing to explore different stakeholders’ perspectives on the issue of using pig cells to treat type 1 diabetes.

Future content

We have some exciting new content under development, including a new focus story on farming New Zealand green-lipped mussels, which looks at some of the threats to the industry, in particular the pea crab, and research into potential biocontrol using pheromones.

In addition, we are working on a whole new section for the Hub that explores the concept of innovation and its importance for New Zealand’s future prosperity as well as snapshots of current innovative products and processes in development in New Zealand.

News and events  

Keep up to date with the latest biotechnology news, events and radio broadcasts.

Biodegradable electronics – News item
A multinational team of scientists from the US, Korea and China has developed a new class of electronics capable of dissolving harmlessly in water or bodily fluids after a predetermined amount of time.

Allergy-free milk: nothing to sneeze at – News item
Scientists from AgResearch and the University of Waikato have created a genetically modified cloned cow to produce milk lacking the whey protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a protein to which an estimated 2–6% children are allergic.

New cancer treatment – RNZ audio
Victoria University is investigating a new form of cancer treatment using evolved enzymes. This news item links to our focus story Evolved enzymes.

More news and events

Contact us

We’d like to hear from you if you’re using Hub resources in the classroom or if you’re interested in helping us develop new resources. Please email enquiries@biotechlearn.org.nz, and we’ll be in touch.

Best wishes

The Biotechnology Learning Hub team



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