Professor Stephen Henry has been awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s prestigious RJ Scott medal for engineering science and technology in recognition for his novel biotechnology research.
Stephen, Director of AUT’s Biotechnology Research Institute, is a pioneering scientist of cell surface modification technology – KODE Technology.
In announcing the award recently Dr Garth Carnaby, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand, said it recognises the tremendous contribution made by Stephen to research and development in New Zealand.
“Professor Henry is a world leader in the field of glycoscience. He has developed a unique technology that represents a step change in the ability of scientists to create, manipulate and study the effects of carbohydrate structures on intercellular processes,” he said.
Together with his Russian colleague Nicolai Bovin, Stephen invented the technology platform (KODE Technology) which allows for the attachment of biological markers to the surface of cells, viruses and non-biological solids - a kind of biological paint. He also established the company KODE Biotech to commercialise the technology.
“KODE technology is a novel and potentially disruptive technology that allows users to modify the outside of cells, viruses and biosurfaces. It can do this without harming the modified cell/organism, so it has significant potential for use in both diagnostic and therapeutic application,” he says.
KODE technology has already been successfully translated into a range of medical practice technologies including quality control systems, diagnostic antibody detection panels and research and development tools. Researchers throughout the world are using the technology for projects ranging from reprogamming viruses to attack tumors, inhibitons of viruses, developing novel vaccination systems, through to printing biomarkers on solid surfaces.
In addition to KODE technology research, this year his team (primarily PhD student Lola Svensson) jointly discovered a new blood group system in man. This is only the 31st blood group system discovered since 1900 and only the second discovered in the last 20 years.