AgTech StartUp Uses Lasers To Improve Artificial Insemination In Dairy Cows

An AgTech startup in New Zealand, Engender Technologies has created a new microfluidic and photonic technology to sort livestock sperm by sex to enrich X chromosome-bearing bull sperm cells.

The new technology uses lasers to orient sperm cells and look inside those sperm cells as well as separate them based on the presence of an X or a Y chromosome.  In contrast to the industry’s standard practice of using an electric charge and field in the artificial insemination process, Engender’s technology uses a wavelength of light to sort cells-on-a-chip. The company believes this will reduce the negative impact on the fertility rate of sperm cells sorted through its system and give dairy farmers great control over offspring.

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What happened when one expert killer was visited by the US military’s science agency

When Kiwi rat killing expert Doctor James Russell was told his research was being sized up for United States military funding, he wasn’t surprised.

“The US military – they have very long fingers. Even through the universities in New Zealand, they have a representative that comes around and just asks, ‘hey, what are you guys up to’.

“And obviously we’re in the business of eradicating entire populations of animals from an island and so they have cocked their ear towards me once or twice.

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What is gene drive technology and what does it mean for New Zealand?

We’ve been hearing a lot about this technology over recent years – yet the concept has been about for half a century.

The concept of a synthetic gene drive was devised almost 50 years ago by Christopher Curtis who proposed rearranging genetic material to “drive” anti-pathogenic genes into wild species.

The idea was taken further by UK evolutionary geneticist Professor Austin Burtin, who discussed how a synthetic gene drive could be used to prevent insects spreading diseases such as malaria.

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LCT files pericyte protective agent provisional patent


The invention in this provisional patent arises from LCT’s research collaboration with the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at The University of Auckland. The research collaboration explored how LCT’s products can reverse human brain neurodegenerative processes associated with pericytes (and other brain cells), which help sustain the blood-brain barrier and other homeostatic and haemostatic functions in the brain.

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2 new CRISPR tools overcome the scariest parts of gene editing

Several years ago, scientists discovered a technique known as CRISPR/Cas9, which allowed them to edit DNA more efficiently than ever before.

Since then, CRISPR science has exploded; it’s become one of the most exciting and fast-moving areas of research, transforming everything from medicine to agriculture and energy. In 2017 alone, more than 14,000 CRISPR studies were published.

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New Zealand will get blindsided by artificial meat and milk

New Zealand will be left behind if the country doesn’t embrace the future of meat and milk, says columnist and former Federated Farmers Whanganui president Rachel Stewart.

“I think we’re going to get blindsided very soon, and Fonterra’s not really waking up to it,” Stewart said on Media Take on Tuesday.

“They were saying last week they don’t think [artificial meat and milk] is a threat – it’s a huge threat, it’s happening in India, it’s happening in California.

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Dr Clyde Smith interviewed by Andrew Patterson

Follow the link to listen to Andrew Pattersons interview with Dr Clyde Smith starts at 22:30

Andrew’s feature guest this week is NZ born research scientist Dr Clyde Smith who has been based at Stanford in the US for the last decade.
They discuss the growing concern regarding antibiotic-resistant super-bugs and what is being termed the “research void” that has occurred where no significant scientific discoveries have been made in this area for more than two decades.

Peter Jackson eyes up opportunities in leading edge food business

After conquering the movie industry, Sir Peter Jackson is now focusing on the plant-based protein business.

Earlier this year he and director James Cameron set up a company called PBT New Zealand, standing for plant-based technology. Both have been tight-lipped over what they intend to achieve.

Asked if the company’s initials related to plant-based technology, chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), Nick Pyke, responded: “Yes. We’ve got some projects going with them.”

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Fonterra confident dairy will always trump synthetic alternatives

Fonterra Cooperative Group is confident the complexity of cow milk will always trump plant-based alternatives, which the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Peter Gluckman sees as posing an “existential threat” to the country’s economic fortunes.

Gluckman threw down the gauntlet in a keynote speech to the annual NZBIO conference in Wellington yesterday, saying there was a growing consumer appetite around the world for synthetic alternatives to meat and milk, including in the all-important Asian market, with plant-based foods now crossing the taste and texture threshold and offering a much smaller environmental impact than food derived from pastoral farming.

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Oritain’s fingerprints all over NZBIO trophy

Wellington New Zealand October 12 2017: Oritain, a company that detects food fraud using “fingerprints” in the chemical compositions of plants, soils, water and animal feed, is New Zealand’s Biotechnology Company of the Year.

Oritain, which grew out of Otago University, works with companies around the world and locally with the likes of Synlait, Alliance Group, NZ Honey Company and Lewis Road Creamery.

Dr Zahra Champion, chief executive of NZBIO, says Oritain most recently partnered with GE Healthcare, one of the world leaders in supplying high-quality serum to global vaccine manufacturers. It will verify the origins of GE’s Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS) from New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

FBS, a blood by-product, is used as a growth supplement in cell cultures producing vaccines or biopharmaceutical drugs. It is also used when growing cells for basic research and drug discovery.

Since sera are derived from animals, the risk of virus contamination is unavoidable.

Countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States have a lower risk of viral contamination and as a result the demand for proven sera from these origins is high.

Dr Champion says Oritain is a perfect example of game-changing technology that can be found in New Zealand.

“Biotechnology will be central to addressing many of the world’s current and future problems – in heath, medicine, agriculture and environment,” she says. “I don’t think New Zealanders understand the changes that are rapidly taking place. Yet we have some pockets of innovative greatness in New Zealand that are already contributing to solving those problems.”

NZBIO also paid tribute to Maxine Simmons, who received the 2017 Bioscience Achievement Award.

Maxine has more than 30 years commercial experience in start-up and expansion stage private company development. She was a founding director of Industry New Zealand (now New Zealand Trade and Enterprise), a director of NZ’s Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, Crown Research Institute, Industrial Research and represented New Zealand on the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

A former chairman of NZBIO, Maxine is executive director of early-stage healthcare investment fund Cure Kid Ventures and a director on several private healthcare companies in New Zealand.

For its final award in association with its annual conference, NZBIO awarded the “Young Bioscientist of the Year” to Dr Ollie Crush.

An experienced biotechnologist with a strong synthetic biology background, Ollie is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in bacterial and yeast model systems for probing complex microbiological operations.

In 2016 Dr Crush co-founded Mint Innovation – a biotechnology company recovering precious metals from waste materials.  As Mint’s chief scientific officer Dr Crush is responsible for developing a robust scalable process – taking the process from laboratory proof of concept stage to a world first pilot stage.


For more information contact:

Dr Zahra Champion


Felicity Anderson
Trio Communications
Tel: +64 21 22 40 520