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    Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
    Published 27 November 2014 Referencing Hub media

    The winners of the Commercial Deal Award were GlycoSyn and Callaghan Innovation for their work on kifunensine – a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of an enzyme replacement therapy. Paul Benjes and Tony Davidson (GlycoSyn and Callaghan Innovation) described how GlycoSyn developed and patented a manufacturing process for kifunensine. Kifunensine is used in enzyme replacement therapy, and it is also being developed for possible use in vaccines.


    Dr Richard Furneaux
    Kifunensine has become an article of commerce because it is used in industrial process to actually control the glycosylation pattern of glycol protein. That sounds very fancy, but what it means is that the enzyme replacement therapy being given by injection goes where it’s supposed to go.

    Paul Benjes
    Kifunensine is a natural product so it is derived through biological processes, and our clients who are demanding a supply of kifunensine are using this product as an ingredient in their manufacturing processes. In order to generate product, they throw in some kifunensine, and what that does is it inhibits background degradation of the product, so with kifunensine, product, without kifunensine, no product – simple as that.

    Dr Richard Furneaux
    We are looking for kifunensine’s other uses, and one of the other uses, potentially, is in the manufacture of vaccines – vaccines against viruses like the AIDS virus. It can be used to change the glycoprotein that is used as the antigen in these vaccines, and that looks as though they may be more effective than what’s been tried before.

    Paul Benjes
    Sales of kifunensine have stabilised now to the point where we’re selling multi-million dollar quantities per annum off shore.

    Dr Richard Furneaux
    We are actually servicing major biotech firms all around the world, particularly in the US. These people are actually getting products to market that involve the technologies that we develop.

    Paul Benjes
    This was a very serendipitous project because our client who we were negotiating a contract arrangement with for the development of kifunensine walked away, and we were left out of pocket – seriously out of pocket – so do we continue or do we stop? We elected to continue, we generated intellectual property, we filed and protected that intellectual property and now we have a hugely valuable product.

    Dr Richard Furneaux
    The efforts we put in in New Zealand are actually delivering health benefits all the time, and that’s incredibly exciting.

    Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
    © Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013