Dr Karen Poon, Associate Dean of the Division of Science and Technology and two of her students have successfully patented a method of producing vitamin B12 from vegetarian food. The patent was granted by the China's State Intellectual Property Office late last semester.

Dr Poon says she generated the idea of producing vitamin B12 as a Final Year Project in 2011. “The first student who chose this topic did not generate a perfect result. In 2012, another student, Mo-Yung Kin Cheung, made it come to fruition.”

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Dr Poon (right) and Mr Mo-Yung (left) had to adopt a low-cost fermentation approach because they initially lacked the right laboratory equipment. In their search for alternatives they came up with useful apparatuses, but these are rarely found on the domestic market. “We therefore made the designs ourselves and had them custom-built in the workshops at Hong Kong Baptist University,” Dr Poon continues.

“I'm proud and delighted that my students have shown excellent independent-thinking and hands-on skills and successfully turned my idea into a reality.”

Vitamin B12 is found in animal derived foods, including fish and shellfish, meat (especially liver), poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. The vitamin keeps the formation of blood cells in good working conditions, and a deficiency can cause serious nerve damage and anaemia.

This patent is groundbreaking news for the elderly and vegetarians, who need good and regular intake of vitamin B12, says Dr Poon.

 

(Republished from MPRO’s UIC Beacon Issue XII)