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Biotechnology Careers in South Africa

Biotechnology in South Africa is a new but budding sector. This is possible as there is support from the government which sees and acknowledges the importance of biotechnology in the alleviation of poverty, in the pharmaceutical industry and in the safety of the environment. There are organisations that have been established in South Africa under the Department of Science and Technology, that promotes Biotechnology at provincial and thus at the national level. These organisations strive to promote biotechnology research and products by funding different companies, research groups and even students, to improve and promote biotechnology. South Africa is rich in biodiversity that is currently being harnessed, especially the traditional medicinal plants, for the treatment of different diseases. Thus a lot of research and companies, especially pharmaceuticals, have been established to do these. The organisations that funds these researches and the different companies set up in regard to these, looking at human health are listed below

1. Lifelab EcoBio Innovation Centre

The centres funds biotechnological industries mainly concerned with human health. The main targeted diseases are HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria which are important in South Africa. Therefore mainly it funds pharmaceutical industries that aim to produce any drugs to combat these three diseases and other diseases arising due to the targeted ones. The funded companies are

a. Tenofovir Gel Trial for HIV Prevention- Looks at the safety and effectiveness of the 1% Tenofovir gel, which is a vaginal microbicide aimed at preventing HIV infection in South African women. It does this in association of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
b. Arvir Technologies (Pty) Ltd- Established in 2005. It was established in order to establish and provide solutions to the HIV situation in South Africa. The focus is to use South African biodiversity to characterise biologically active compounds from the South African herbal extracts and develop these as therapeutics targeted at HIV/AIDS and related diseases.

c. Ferox Pharm (Pty) Ltd- Established to harness the medicinal properties of South African Aloe ferox plant in order to develop and provide accessible and affordable medicines for the treatment of Aids related diarrhoea.

d. iThemba Pharmaceuticals- A medicinal chemistry drug discovery company established in 2007. It focuses on the discovery and development of drugs to treat infectious disease such as TB and HIV/AIDS and their associated infectious diseases, in the whole of Africa.

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