Photo - Paul Moung, MD, IBM Malaysia.
Technology solutions giant IBM has signed with Malaysian government agency NanoMalaysia to develop nanogel star polymer based materials that will ease access to antimicrobial coatings and drug delivery applications to help in the battle against superbug outbreaks, said the partners.
Under the agreement, which was witnessed in San Francisco by the Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 3rd Global Science & Innovation Action Council (GSIAC) meeting, IBM Research will also provide training for Malaysian scientists at its Almaden Research Centre in the United States.
NanoMalaysia chairman Prof. Emeritus Datuk Dr. Ir. Zawawi said this agreement follows the collaboration that both parties entered into in November 2012 on research and development of nanotechnologies, in areas such as energy storage, electronics, healthcare and computational science; with specific outcomes for intellectual property development, commercialisation and industry partnerships.
"Antimicrobial applications can be used as part of a comprehensive infection control programme in hospitals and other public healthcare settings. This development in drug delivery application will have a major role in disease treatment, especially for cancer therapy," said Prof Zawawi.
He said IBM will partner with NanoMalaysia's research and development programme over three years, with focus areas divided into three phases of engagement each lasting 12 months. Most of the costs of the joint research programme will be funded by the Ministry of Education, and coordinated by NanoMalaysia
NanoMalaysia will also select up to 30 researchers to participate in this programme on six month rotations at IBM's Almaden Research Centre in an exchange programme that will provide researchers with a platform to increase their skills, gain first-hand knowledge in an international market as well as gain crucial experience in research areas which are critical to industrial need and the advancement of technology in Malaysia, said Prof Zawawi.
"The drug delivery system project is used to address Malaysia's health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as well as obesity which have been highlighted as a healthcare initiative under GSIAC," said NanoMalaysia chief executive officer, Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad, adding that the first team of five researchers are already at the IBM research laboratories in Almaden and due to return in March 2014.
"IBM Research conducts basic and applied research focused on solving problems relevant for the world's most pressing challenges and accelerate progress towards a smarter planet," said IBM Malaysia managing director, Paul Moung. "We are pleased that our initial engagement with NanoMalaysia has progressed to the second stage where technology transfer can take place."
The joint research programme ultimately aims to accelerate the development of science and technology to create innovative and marketable products and services that have a global application, said Moung.
NanoMalaysia Berhad was incorporated under the auspices of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation as the lead agency for nanotechnology development in aspects of intellectual property, commercialisation and industrial enablement.
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