Unigen and University of Prince Edward Island Embark on Major Scientific Marine Collection Project

Lacey, WA - Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading natural products R&D company and proprietary rights supplier, and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), have announced a partnership, which is the first step in an exciting process of collecting marine organisms from the Atlantic Ocean, with an eye to screening the samples for creating therapeutic and commercial products.

Unigen has been collecting plants and other organisms since 1997. Their research and discovery includes extensive work at both the human cell and gene level. Unigen focuses on identifying and studying the unique ingredients of medicinal botanicals and then developing proprietary raw materials for use in cosmeceutical, nutraceutical, functional food and pharmaceutical products. However, the current project will be the first time the company has developed a marine collection.

Researchers anticipate collecting a diverse range of marine organisms – invertebrates such as sponges, corals (non-reef builders), tunicates, and echinoderms, as well as algae, all of which will provide a wealth of information that will lead to discoveries of new chemical entities and novel natural, therapeutic commercial products.

Leading the collection process is Dr. Russell Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products at UPEI. Dr. Kerr has been collecting and studying specimens in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas for over 20 years.

Dr Qi, Jia, Chief Scientific Officer of Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Dr. Kerr met in the spring of 2007, resulting in the partnership between the company and UPEI. “Dr. Kerr’s reputation and lab are very highly respected in the marine natural product research community,” said Dr. Jia. “Unigen is very excited to see this project move ahead so quickly, and very proud to be involved with Dr. Kerr and the University of Prince Edward Island.”

“Unigen has great expertise with the development of natural products from plants and I’m very optimistic that this marine-based collaboration will lead to many exciting discoveries,” said Dr. Kerr. “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with Unigen.”

After collection, Unigen will apply natural-product chemistry to extract the collected marine organisms, and fractionate the extracts using a high-throughput purification system. The obtained marine extracts and fractions will be tested internally and externally on appropriate biological, biochemical, genomic, proteomic, in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo models. The active components will be separated and identified as leads for development of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and functional food products.

Unigen will work closely with Dr. Kerr and UPEI to further expand this collaborative research in marine natural products in coming years.

About Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
www.unigenUSA.com – Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a leading natural products research and development company and proprietary ingredients supplier. The Company is dedicated to the discovery of botanically-derived therapeutic compounds that address consumer health needs and help improve quality of life.

Unigen’s global offices have 80 employees, 55 of whom are scientists. Contributing to their vast library of novel botanical ingredients, the current facilities include high-throughput screening and cell culture labs, bioprospecting labs and a large-scale manufacturing facility. Unigen is part of the ECONET global family of health and natural product companies, which has operations in the United States, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Russia and China.

About The University of Prince Edward Island
www.upei.ca – A catalyst within Atlantic Canada’s growing bioscience research cluster, UPEI, along with its Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), is an established leader in life sciences and veterinary research. Located in the coastal city of Charlottetown, it is home to 4,000 students, and was recently ranked first for producing high-caliber research by Re$earch Infosource.

Since 1999, UPEI has experienced a greater than 4-fold increase in research funding, more than doubled the graduate student enrollment, and has been awarded 5 prestigious Canada Research Chairs in biotechnology-related fields. Recent investments in the infrastructure at UPEI to support biotechnology include a $32M expansion of the AVC, the construction of a $15.5M Centre for Bioresources and Health (which includes the National Research Council Institute for Nutrisciences and Health), and the $11M Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. UPEI has business-friendly mechanisms in place to allow for effective contract research and other collaborations with industry and research organizations.

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