19 June 2012

UniQuest has facilitated a research and development contract with US biotech company Viral Genetics, Inc. for University of Queensland (UQ) Associate Professor Ben Hankamer to collaborate on an innovative biofuel production system.

VG Energy, a California-based, majority-owned subsidiary of Viral Genetics, sought the world-leading expertise of Associate Professor Hankamer, who is based at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), to optimise the use of its Metabolic Disruption Technology (MDT) compounds in algae lipid production for biofuel production.

Details of the contract’s value and timing are commercial in confidence. However, UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said this was the first R&D project Viral Genetics had contracted with UniQuest to access research within The University of Queensland.

“This contract reflects the confidence that overseas companies like VG Energy have in Australian innovation generally and UQ research particularly. Associate Professor Ben Hankamer is an internationally respected biofuels expert, as well as co-director of the collaborative Solar Biofuels Consortium,” said Mr Henderson.

“High-efficiency microalgal bio-fuels and bio-product production systems represent a rapidly expanding area of biotechnology with global significance.

“UniQuest’s Consulting and Research Division plays a vital role in helping industry access the expertise and resources of world-class university researchers, while at the same time enabling Australian scientists to contribute innovative solutions to global challenges,” he said.

Associate Professor Hankamer’s multi-part study aims to identify the ideal parameters for the use of VG Energy’s MDT compounds. His team will test a selected set of micro-algae strains and the optimum conditions for commercial production.

“One of the exciting aspects of our work with VG Energy is the potential to develop improved processes for solar-driven fuel production,” said Associate Professor Hankamer.

“Establishing sustainable solar fuel production processes could, in-turn, lead to new industries and opportunities for competitive growth within existing industries,” he said.

Associate Professor Hankamer’s research group specialises in photosynthesis, and the development of microalgael biofuel and bio-product systems.
This research contract is one of several announcements from UniQuest coinciding with this year’s BIO (booth 3435 in the Australia Pavilion).

Media enquiries:
UniQuest: Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au

About UniQuest Pty Limited www.uniquest.com.au
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 70 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $450 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year. UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects with 60+ countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

About VG Energy
VG Energy, Inc. is an alternative energy and agricultural biotech company that is a majority-owned subsidiary of Viral Genetics Inc., a biotechnology company researching new treatments and methods of detection for diseases including cancer, HIV/AIDS and others. Using its Metabolic Disruption Technology (MDT), Viral Genetics' cancer research led to discoveries with major consequences in a wide variety of other industries, including biofuel and vegetable oils. VG Energy holds the exclusive worldwide license to the MDT patent rights for use in the increase of production of various plant-derived oils from algae and seeds. These pivotal discoveries promise to allow the biofuel industry to overcome its major obstacle in the area of production efficiency: namely, an increase in production yields leading to feasible economic returns on investment, allowing renewable biodiesel to be competitive with fossil fuels. For more information, please visit http://www.vgenergy.net.

About Viral Genetics, Inc.
San Marino, California-based Viral Genetics discovers drug therapies from two platform technologies based on over 60 patents: Metabolic Disruption (MDT) and Targeted Peptides (TPT). Founded in 1994, the biotech company is researching treatments for HIV/AIDS, Lyme Disease, Strep, Staph and drug resistant cancer. A majority-owned subsidiary, VG Energy (www.vgenergy.net), is dedicated to exploring biofuel and agricultural applications for the MDT platform. For more information, visit www.viralgenetics.com.