Unigen Pharmaceuticals Forms Collaboration on Novel Skin Lightening Ingredient
Lacey, WA – August 9, 2005 – Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading research and development facility and supplier of proprietary, biologically active plant-derived ingredients to the natural products and pharmaceutical industries, has announced a research and development collaboration with Dr. David E. Minter of Texas Christian University (TCU) for the development of a novel skin lightening product derived from a medicinal plant. Its mechanism of action is based on the inhibition of tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the production of melanin, the skin’s natural pigment.
Globally, skin lightening products have developed into a billion dollar industry, with sales of more than $1 billion dollars in Japan alone.
According to Unigen’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Qi Jia, “Millions of women and men alike are searching for ways to ensure healthy, smooth and uniformly colored skin well into their prime, and are seeking products that address age spots and skin discoloration that result from sun exposure, heredity and hormones.” He indicated that unfortunately, many products in the U.S., Asia and Europe derive their potency from ingredients such as hydroquinone and kojic acid that can have serious side effects. According to Dr. Jia, “Unigen’s patent-pending skin lightening ingredient involves a novel natural structure that has a high safety profile.”
By utilizing its patent-pending PhytoLogix® technology platform, Unigen has screened more than 2,000 medicinal plants for tyrosinase inhibitory activity. After bioassay guided isolation, a novel compound was discovered with more than a ten-fold potency level compared to the leading skin-whitening ingredient commonly used in the cosmetics industry. However, due to the low natural content of the active ingredient in the original plant, Unigen and Dr. Minter have formed a research collaboration to develop this ingredient by organic synthesis in his laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at TCU.
“Professor Minter is a well-recognized scholar in the total synthesis of natural products. We are very excited to work with him in pursuing this unique compound,” said Dr. Jia. “This important collaboration with Texas Christian University will greatly accelerate the time it takes to bring this novel compound to the cosmetic market.”
According to Professor Minter, “The project with Unigen is quite interesting, particularly since such a potent biological function can be derived from a very simple, natural structure. Our challenge will be to develop an efficient, synthetic scheme to produce the compound economically with large-scale production under consideration." Unigen and Dr. Minter endeavor to have a clinically proven ingredient available for licensing to cosmetic manufacturers by 2006.
Professor Minter has taught at TCU since 1980. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the Stephen F. Austin State University, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. His distinguished career includes having published over 40 peer-reviewed papers and having made dozens of presentations at prestigious meetings and conferences.
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About Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (www.UnigenPharma.com) 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 the quality of human life. Its research and discovery process includes extensive work at both the human cell and gene level. Unigen and sister company Aloecorp, Inc. each focus on identifying and studying the unique ingredients of medicinal botanicals (Aloecorp’s focus is on Aloe vera) and then formulating proprietary raw materials for use in cosmeceutical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.
Regan Miles, President & Chief Operating Officer
Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.