J’can Scientist Henry Lowe Takes Another Step on Road to Cure
CELEBRATED Jamaican scientist Dr Henry Lowe will this evening announce the launch of a research and development institute, which will develop pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals from indigenous Jamaican plants.
At the same time Dr Lowe, who gained world attention with his discovery of cancer drugs from a Jamaican plant, will announce the development of a cancer drug that will be locally produced, first as a nutraceutical which should be ready for the local and international markets early next year.
Yesterday, an upbeat Dr Lowe opted not to reveal too much ahead of this evening’s launch. “The idea is that we intend to use science and technology for wealth creation,” he told the Observer, adding that the venture has “multimillion-dollar potential”.
“The big excitement is that it is new and it is non-traditional. The promise that it holds, if we treat it right, is that it could be our best investment ever,” he said.
Pre-launch material provided by Dr Lowe, said the Bio-tech R&D Institute will initially focus on the development and commercialisation of pharmaceuticals from indigenous plants, of which Jamaica has over 84 of the 160 established medicinal plants of the world.
“This national resource has been underutilised and holds significant potential for the development of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry in Jamaica and for the economic development of the country,” the document said.
“The institute will not only focus on indigenous biological materials for the production of pharmaceuticals, but also for foods and fragrances. There will also be the introduction of cutting edge biotechnology, such as stem cell research and development.”
Dr Lowe, who won the Observer Business Leader Award for 2006, explained that that institute — the first and only one of its kind in Jamaica and the Caribbean — has brought together the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University and the Scientific Research Council.
The four institutions are being issued with 2.5 per cent of the total shares of the Bio-tech R&D Institute, free of cost, for them to become stakeholders.
Bio-tech R&D’s principal shareholders are Dr Lowe, who holds the majority stake; the Environmental Health Foundation; Dr Joseph Bryant of the University of Maryland Medical School; and Federated Pharmaceutical/Lascelles Limited which will work with the science and technology institutions to develop and take to market their discoveries.
Lowe, who is executive chairman of the Environmental Health Foundation, expects that in addition to the approximately 100 local scientists who will benefit from the creation of the institute, approximately 5,000 jobs should be created over the next two years in Jamaica’s agriculture sector which will be required to provide raw material for research.
“That’s just from the nutraceutical side alone,” he explained, adding that a major focus of the institute will be “pushing the idea of brand Jamaica and its potential”.