Kinetana establishes SAR-based test bed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am

Canada-based Kinetana Group is to set up a research base in Hong Kong to develop clinically tested traditional Chinese-medicine products.

The company aims to 'modernise' Chinese medicine for export through its newly established subsidiary Kinetana Hong Kong Herbal Pharmaceuticals.

Kinetana Group provides pre-clinical services to pharmaceutical companies in the drug-discovery process and develops technologies to identify chemicals that could be developed into new drugs.

Kinetana Group president and founder Tam Yun-kau said the company was recruiting a team of Chinese-medicine specialists primarily in North America and the mainland, to conduct research in Hong Kong.

Kinetana Hong Kong will sign an agreement early next month to lease space at the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology in Sha Tin to house the research operation.

It plans to move the operation to the proposed Science Park near the institute early next year.

The Hong Kong operation will focus on developing traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of hepatitis, liver cancer, cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal diseases.

The company would seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its products so they can be marketed worldwide.

Mr Tam, a Western medicine professional, conceded that it was not easy to blend Chinese medicine into Western drug development methodologies, given Chinese medicine's lack of formulation standards and the difficulty of purifying herbal ingredients.

'Most researchers in this field are aiming to extract and purify ingredients from Chinese herbs and formulate them into Western medicine; I'm not sure if this is the right philosophy.' He added: 'I think it has to be a mix of Chinese and Western methods.

'Somehow we have to keep the traditions of Chinese medicine for better results.' Mr Tam is a pharmaceutical science professor at the University of Alberta.

He said Kinetana Group had obtained a patent on a technology that speeds up the identification process for chemicals that could be developed into new drugs.

The technology, which will be used in Kinetana Hong Kong for its development of Chinese-medicines, could shorten the pre-clinical stage of the new drug discovery process from a typical six years to about two, Mr Tam claimed.

He said Kinetana Group had signed letters of intent to set up joint ventures with two large pharmaceutical firms to manufacture equipment for the technology, but he declined to name the firms for confidentiality reasons.

The company's 11 PhD-qualified researchers were developing two drugs for treatment of cancer and Aids patients, as well as a new antibiotic, he added.