Monday, November 1, 2010

Owensboro’s KBP is building a biotech mousetrap

In his "Beyond 5 Percent" Blog, OMHS President Dr. Jeff Barber offered some excellent insight about the work of Kentucky BioProcessing in creating a plant pharmaceutical cluster in Owensboro:

To paraphrase the famous quotation, Owensboro’s KBP is building a better biotech mousetrap, and it looks like the world may soon beat a path right to its door. In fact, large corporations, international governments, and even the U.S. Department of Defense are already knocking. I am confident KBP will succeed, and when that happens, we could be witnessing the birth of a new industry in our region, one that could completely reinvent the local economy. Here’s what my friend and colleague Hugh Haydon, KBP chair, says about this endeavor.

“I’m convinced that this venture is about more than KBP or OMHS. It’s about Owensboro demonstrating the vision and ability to establish a foothold in a very significant industrial sector, the way other areas built an automobile industry or Silicon Valley.”

Bold thoughts, indeed, but take a look at what KBP is doing, and you’ll see why the future seems so optimistic.

The next generation of drugs and vaccines, forecasts say, will increasingly utilize proteins derived from various biological production systems. In fact, a version of the tobacco plant so long associated with our region is the basis for just such a system. This plant is already playing a key role as researchers discover new ways to produce critical proteins through the use of genetic enhancements.

But here’s the challenge: should a breakthrough discovery be made or a vaccine be invented, how would you harvest proteins on a scale large enough for mass production? Lab results are wonderful, but replicating them on a commercial scale presents a completely different challenge, one that is usually time-consuming and extremely expensive.

Click here too read the rest of Dr. Barber's Blog.

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