The Sabah State Government through the Sabah Biodiversity Centre SaBC and Universiti Malaysia Sabah UMS signed an agreement today to explore the state’s biodiversity for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical potential. SaBC Director Dr. Abdul Fatah Amir signed on behalf of the State Government, and UMS Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Shariff Abdul Kadir bin Shariff Omang Al-Haj signed for UMS.

The agreement is signed for a period of two years – 2012 to 2013, during which the State Government will allocate RM1.58million worth of funding to UMS to carry out biotechnology research on selected biological resources in Sabah.

Playing its part, UMS, through its Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation will provide facilities and expertise in the relevant areas of marine and terrestrial biotechnological product discovery. 300 selected species, 150 of which from the marine and another 150 from the terrestrial of Sabah’s biological resources will be analysed for their potential anticancer and antioxidant effects. The main outputs from this strategic collaboration are the production of chemical compounds and also the establishment of specimen database, as well as extract and chemical profiles of such biological resources.

In addition, such collaboration can be seen as an effort to support the building up of the State’s economic competitiveness through modern biotechnology. It is also a long term strategy in building up Sabah’s technological capability in biotechnology besides being a plan for biodiversity conservation through the creation of awareness on the value of the biological resources through biotechnology to the people. Such collaboration will be long term, and will not only be confined to screening potential biological resources and producing chemical compounds alone, but will proceed up to cell-based analysis, and pre-clinical trials research in the near future. By doing this, the chances of Sabah’s biological resources being tapped by international pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies will be greater.Sabah Biodiversity Centre SaBC is a State government department established under the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000. It was established in May 2008. One of its functions under the Enactment is promoting the identification of new natural and biotechnological products derived from the biodiversity and biological resources of the State.

The Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation ITBC is one of three centres of excellence in UMS. It was established in 1996. ITBC’s main research trusts are; 1 Biosystematics and Biodiversity, 2 Ecological Processes, 3 Advancement of Biodiversity Natural Products Chemistry, and 4 Nature Tourism. The research trusts are focused to enhance and utilise biodiversity for conservation and future promotion of biodiversity for commercialisation.

My say: Are the social scientist consulted?

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