Unigen and Inca Health will work with indigenous tribes to collect native plants from the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and Andes mountains that have a history of ethnomedicinal use to identify compounds for the development of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and functional food products.
"The Peruvian rainforest is the richest biological incubator on the planet supporting millions of plant, animal and insect species, and has long been considered a crucial link between humans and nature," said Dr Qi Jia, Unigen's vice president of scientific affairs.
The companies hope to develop global health products from the nutrients and chemicals found in the tropical plants, and aim to make new discoveries.
"We will be concentrating on ingredients to help with pain control, inflammation, tumours, obesity and those which could boost the immune system," said Dr Qi Jia.
Unigen has a solid history of working with scientists in China and India and in May the firm signed a similar agreement with the University of Panama's School of Pharmacy and Center for Pharmacognostic Research on Panamanian Flora (CIFLORPAN).
Through these projects Unigen hopes to significantly expand its PhytoLogix ethnomedicinal plant library that currently includes more than 3,000 medicinal plants, over 5,000 plant extracts and 200,000 fractions and compounds.
Unigen operates in compliance with the United Nations Convention of Biodiversity, also known as the Biodiversity Treaty, which commits it to promoting the conservation and sustainable use of tropical medicinal plants, and sharing knowledge with and supporting the economic development of local communities.
We are a vertically integrated corporation, working with organisations in Mexico, China and Russia, and it is in these countries that we will grow any plants we want to use," added Dr Jia.