Gene sequencing laboratory at Life Sciences Park inaugurated

Last Updated on Friday, 20 November, 2020 at 12:38 pm by Andre Camilleri

Top international vaccine researcher Professor Rino Rappuoli inaugurated the laboratories of a local start-up, The Bio Arte Limited, based at the Life Sciences Park in San Gwann, during a virtual event today.

Prof. Rappuoli, chief scientist and head of external R&D (research and development) at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who discovered monoclonal antibodies and is behind no fewer than five vaccines to prevent the most common serogroups of the fatal meningococcal meningitis, also delivered a keynote address on the invitation of Dr Manuele Biazzo, Scientific Director of The Bio Arte Limited. The theme of the address was ‘The challenge of developing a vaccine for COVID-19 and my studies on the development of monoclonal antibodies’.

Dr Manuele Biazzo

Addressing the launch event, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in St Julian’s, Dr Biazzo said: “We are very proud that a scientific leader has accepted our invitation to inaugurate our laboratories and is aware of the research we are conducting. We are doing our best to develop research from Malta and to attract attention to the best research worldwide. This is the first step to show we can make a difference thanks to the quality of our research and thanks to the partners who accepted to work with us in these endeavours.”

Dr Biazzo announced that The Bio Arte has recently being recognised as an Educational Institute for Sustainable Industrial Biotechnology and the first teaching module is focusing on the Therapeutical Approach of the Human Microbiota. “This is a clear example of how research can be linked to diagnostics and how the results of the work in our laboratories will not remain there but will be shared with the global medical community.

“In this way, Malta will be the hub for these particular research topics and we are very happy to have started in this fantastic way today, the 20 November, in the presence of one of the most respected scientists in the field of microbiology.”

Dr Biazzo expressed satisfaction at the positive response from all the institutions invited to attend with even those unable to attend expressing an interest to get a copy of the video and notes from the keynote address. “There was a healthy interest and I hope this interest will continue also in terms of support for our activities,” he said.

Two parliamentary secretaries, Clayton Bartolo (Financial Services and Digital Economy, responsible for Research, Innovation and Science and Technology Policy) and Dr Deo Debattista (Consumer Protection and Public Cleansing), were invited, with Mr Bartolo sending a video message. The guests were welcomed by Christian Duchow, Director of The Bio Arte Ltd, and Malta Life Sciences Park CEO Pierre Theuma also spoke at the opening.

The Bio Arte Limited has published the results of the sequencing of ten COVID-19 Malta viral isolates on the global database of the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information in the United States, which are freely accessible. Their work was also validated by the University of Siena’s Biotechnology Department.

Their next project, in collaboration with the largest paediatric hospital in Italy, is to understand the difference between the molecular mechanisms that shield children and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from the coronavirus.

The Bio Arte is also collaborating with GenomeUp of Rome, a specialist IT and artificial intelligence machine learning supplier, to handle the huge quantities of data that will emerge from its DNA research, and with local pathologists, including Prof. Christian A. Scerri, ensuring it adopts procedures that are of the highest international standards in its research.

Among its services is the research-based clinical examination of persons, who are referred to the company by their doctors, to obtain a comprehensive outline of all the micro-organisms in their body, correlated with the latest data in research literature worldwide and the implication on their health.

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