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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 3, 2006

Isles to reap rewards from medical research

News of possible Hawai'i participation in clinical trials for a West Nile virus vaccine is encouraging on two fronts.

Hawaii Biotech Inc. plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for clearance to conduct the trials here, involving about 50 patients. FDA approval would represent a feather in the cap of the 'Aiea company and an important enhancement of Hawai'i's reputation as a home base for medical research.

Any opportunity for the state to join the front ranks of medical developments enhances growth prospects for the biotech industry. That's a key element in state efforts to diversify our economy and create higher-paying jobs that can help keep some of the Islands' young talent at home.

This development, as well as the company's ongoing work toward an avian flu vaccine, bodes well for our community's preparedness in the event of a pandemic. West Nile virus has killed almost 800 Americans in seven years. Given our proximity and ties to Asia, Hawai'i is indeed vulnerable. And while the life-threatening potential of avian flu can't be fully predicted, it is clearly in our best interest to be as prepared as possible.

Correction: Hawaii Biotech Inc.'s name was incorrect in a previous version of this editorial.