A Georgia delegation is to explore joint venture opportunities with Canadian and Japanese biomedical firms during this week’s Biotechnology Industry Organization convention in Washington, according to Lauren Owenby, manager of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism‘s life sciences division.

            A convention panel discussing cross-border collaboration and commercialization will also focus on South Africa-based iThemba, a drug discovery firm that grew out of a research partnership between Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Imperial College in London, she said.

            iThemba is currently conducting research into chemical compounds found in South Africa’s natural products to determine potential uses in developing drugs for humans.

            The Georgia pavilion for BIO 2003, which exhibited for the first time in 1999 with just one booth, has grown to 12 booths this year, Ms. Owenby told GlobalFax.

            The convention, which is to include attendees from more than 50 countries, is a key opportunity for the state to market itself internationally as a destination and partner for biomedical firms, she added, citing the meetings with Canadian and Japanese delegation members as an example.

            GDITT is to lead the Georgia delegation, which includes representatives of Augusta Life Sciences, the Georgia Biomedical Partnership, the Georgia Research Alliance, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the University of Georgia, Ms. Owenby said.

            Georgia biomedical companies attending as part of the delegation include Alpharetta-based Atherogenics Inc., which develops drugs to treat chronic inflammatory diseases; Bresegen Inc., the Athens-based subsidiary of an Australian cell therapeutics firm; Inhibitex Inc., an Atlanta company that develops antibody-based products to treat bacterial and fungal infections;

            Norcross-based Serologicals Corp., a provider of biological products used in biotech research, development and manufacturing and UCB Pharma Inc., the Smyrna-based subsidiary of Belgium‘s UCB Group, a major pharmaceuticals multinational company.

            For more information, contact Ms. Owenby via email at lowenby@georgia.org  Visit GDITT’s Office of Science and Technology online at www.smartgeorgia.org