New approach for an old ingredient
The NPN, awarded by the Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate of Health Canada, applies to EastGate’s product that marries the relatively new approach of nanotechnology to an old ingredient, banaba extract. Banaba is an herbal remedy extracted from the leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa, a tree native to Southeast Asia. Banaba leaves contain corosolic acid, a substance shown to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and blood-sugar-lowering properties. A recent review published by researchers associated with the School of Pharmacy at Wingate University in North Carolina listed banaba leaf as a promising ingredient for promoting insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. “Available evidence suggests that a number of natural supplements, including cinnamon, biotin, fenugreek, ginseng, banaba, and alpha-lipoic acid, have the potential to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes in the large at-risk population,” the authors wrote.
“Banaba leaf extract is mentioned in the literature in connection with blood sugar management. The main ingredient assists glucose management but mainly in the morning,” Anna Gluskin, (check sp) CEO of EastGate Biotech told NutraIngredients-USA. “During the night the liver generates glucose and then when people wake up if they have a typical big American breakfast (with lots of calories and carbohydrates) then glucose levels are jumping very high. Even people who have no diabetes notice this.”
Gluskin said the company’s technology helps deal with a problem that plagues many botanical ingredients, that being their poor bioavailability. In its traditional use in the Philippines, Gluskin said users would chop up the plant’s leaves into small pieces and steep them in water.
“But you don’t get very much out of it using water,” Gluskin said. “Then they started extracting it with alcohol, but even then you’d have to drink five or six cups of the mixture to see an effect.”
“With our technology we can use a very small amount of the ingredient. It creates an amalgam with any fluid, such as saliva, and it can then be transported easily through all the mucous membranes of the body,” she said.
Application of nanotech
EastGate Biotech's R&D strategy and product analysis included the identification of biologically active compounds having limited absorption due to low solubility. Low absorption of drugs and poor bioavailability can lead to increased dosages taken by patients with the same treatment result. Increased bioavailability could encourage patient compliance, lower costs of treatment, reduce side effects and improve quality of life.
EastGate Biotech's technology platform provides an effective delivery system with increased bioavailability of incorporated compounds. The Company's approach increases solubility of hydrophobic compounds in a proprietary self-emulsifying vehicle using a safe combination of known and approved excipients. To date, the Company's sub-micron self-emulsifying delivery platform has been used for improvement of dietary supplements as well as pharmaceutical products.
EastGate plans to work with a contract manufacturer to produce the supplement in the short term. In the future, the company has plans to license the technology for wider distribution. In addition to the Canadian market, the company has plans for the formulation in the US market and Mexico is a near term target, too, Gluskin said, because of the rising tide of obesity in that country and official government efforts to arrest it.
“We have already interviewed a partner in Mexico because pre-diabetes and diabetes is of particular concern there. Diabetes is now the number one cause of death in Mexico,” she said.