Hutchison Chi-Med, the Chinese medicine company backed by the firm that created mobile phone group Orange, has signed up the University of Cambridge to investigate the potential healing and anti-aging properties of a number of the group\'s herbal remedies.
Aim-listed Chi-Med sells traditional medicines in China and also has a research and development laboratory in Shanghai where its scientists analyse herbal remedies, some dating back 2,000 years, to establish their active ingredients.
The company already has a proprietary patent medicine for heart disease, the Shexiang Baoxin pill, and sold over 400 million doses of the drug in China over the first half of this year. It has been shown to have healing properties but the research deal announced today will focus research on the core ingredients of the pill. The medicine has been shown to control angiogenesis, the growth of new capillary blood vessels in the body. Dysfunctional angiogenesis is associated with more than 80 diseases, from cancer and diabetic eye problems to stroke.
Modulation of angiogenesis in the skin has also been shown to affect skin aging and over the three years of the Cambridge tie-up, which will be run by Dr Tai-ping Fan of the university\'s department of pharmacology, scientists will try to identify ingredients that could be used in skin care products to be marketed under Chi-Med\'s Sen consumer products brand.
Chi-Med is controlled by Hutchison Whampoa, a Hong Kong conglomerate that owns ports and telephone companies in the UK, and is headed by Asia\'s richest man, Li Ka-shing. Hutchison was also behind the creation of Orange in the early 1990s.
The company\'s key product to date is HMPL-004, a compound based on a Chinese remedy for inflammation of the bowel, which Chi-Med is hoping will prove a winning treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn\'s disease. Trials are ongoing