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New Facilities For Booming Bioactivity

Monday 22 November 2004

New Facilities For Booming Bioactivity Investigation Group

A Wellington research group investigating the effects of natural products and supplements is making a move into bigger premises to meet the growing international demand for their services.

The new Bioactivity Investigation Group (BIG) facilities at the University of Otago’s Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences are officially opened today by Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Hon Pete Hodgson.

School Dean Professor John Nacey says he is delighted by the expansion of BIG, which has “burgeoned into an international leader in testing the bioactivity and safety of natural products for the health supplement market”.

“The growth of the BIG over the past seven years has been truly impressive. Companies from all over the world seek out their services, with strong interest from North Asia in particular. The income their work brings in also allows them to fund their own innovative scientific research into new products,” says Professor Nacey.

BIG Director Dr Paul Davis says that one of the group’s current projects involves investigating the properties of extracts of two Samoan herbal plants to see if they could have potential benefits in the treatment of diabetes.

Extracts from the plants will be tested for their ability to affect a range of body processes associated with diabetes. These include insulin production, the ability of skeletal muscle to increase glucose uptake, the ability of the liver to modulate the uptake and storage of glucose, and the ability of fat cells to modulate glucose, says Dr Davis.

“Big pharmaceutical interests have been accused of exploiting the traditional medicines of indigenous peoples for profit. Instead, what we are doing here is working closely with the people of Samoa to the potential benefit of all involved,” he says.

The opening will take place today at 4pm at the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 23 Mein St,Wellington.


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