Bonding over biotechnology

Thursday, 3 February 2011 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Astron forum shares insights in neuroscience, drug discovery

Astron Ltd., a reputed Sri Lankan pharmaceutical company engaged in developing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of renowned and trusted health care products for over five decades, together with Dr. Ranil De Silva of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura,

organised a seminar on ‘Biotechnology in Neuroscience and Drug Discovery,’ which sphere is considered as being of paramount importance to modern research and development efforts in neuroscience and drug discovery. 

The seminar was held on 17 January at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, bringing together academics, researchers and industry to work in close collaboration in the field of biotechnology and drug discovery. This endeavour is undoubtedly a new dimension in the healthcare sphere bringing a new paradigm to this all important sector. 

The seminar was attended by more than 175 participants from the University of Colombo, Jaffna, Peradeniya, Sri, Jayewardenepura and Ruhuna covering the faculty of medicine, science, veterinary medicine and animal science  research institutes as well as industry giants such as State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation, Astron Ltd., Hettigoda Industries (Pvt) Ltd. and prominent research and development related institutes such as the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Industrial Technology Institute, Medical Research Institute, Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute and the  Institute of indigenous Medicine.

The last few decades saw biotechnology and pharmacology advancing in leaps and bounds and hence the seminar was seen as timely in providing a much needed impetus to the current understanding of the subject. Furthermore, the seminar was seen as bringing together the biotechnology fraternity into a common forum.

The topics presented at the seminar by the much respected resource personalities such as Prof. Ann Kato Dept of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland and Gabor Kato, formerly from the Dept. of Pharmacology, McGill, University, Montreal, Canada and CEO of Neurotech, Geneva, Switzerland, were pertinent, current and relevant to the latest developments in the fields of neuroscience and biotechnology. Information on groundbreaking discoveries in the neuroscience and drug discovery sphere was aptly shared by the resource personnel with those present at the seminar. 

Director – Marketing of Astron Sirimal Fernando said that Astron was glad to be associated with the field giants for the development of biotechnology in Sri Lanka. “Given the enthusiasm of the participants and their positive feedback, we are planning to organise seminars of this nature in the future as well so that Sri Lanka can benefit from the fast advancing technology,” he continued.  

The importance of intellectual property rights and patenting rights for drug discovery and the problems presented in obtaining international patents and FDA approval for local scientists working in the area of indigenous medicines were discussed at this forum. 

Dr. De Silva said: “Many local researchers working in the area of indigenous medicines who were keen to address the possibility of liaising with foreign institutions were given the opportunity to communicate their interests through the invited guest speakers.” 

“It is hoped this will lead to increased research collaborations between local and international biomedical institutions and highlight the importance of Sri Lankan indigenous medicine. Prof. Kato has agreed to help us in the area of developing collaborative research,” he added.

 The overall success of this event and the immense interest shown by members of the academia, industry, students and the general public have prompted the organisers to make this an annual event with the aim of addressing further current issues in biomedical research in the coming years.