Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Arctic Biotechnology Revealed in Patents

Could more effective medicines and tastier ice cream come from the belly of a shrimp living in the icy waters off Greenland? A new report called Bioprospecting in the Arctic, sponsored by the United Nations University Institute for Advanced Studies, looks at the current state of research into useful genetic materials found in plants, animals, fish and microbes living in the far north. Included in the report is a list of 31 patents and patent applications based on Arctic genetic resources, such as reindeer, northern shrimp, Artic fox, Arctic scallop, Atlantic cod and junipers. The list of patents is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. A quick esp@cenet search on some of the species named in the patents turns up dozens of additional documents. For example, there are at least ten patents related to the marine microbe rhodothermus marinus.