by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Observer column | Monday, February 27, 2012
Local scientist Dr Henry Lowe (2nd right), updates Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson (left) about the new range of local nutraceutical supplements and teas being promoted under the Eden Gardens brand at the launch last Thursday at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston. Dr Lowe's wife and Sir Kenneth Hall, former governor general, listen in. The products are developed and formulated from local plants by Dr Lowe and his Bio-Tech R&D Institute team. (Caption from the Observer - Photo: Lionel Rookwood)
In spite of the challenges, there are special Jamaicans who help us to keep the faith. In continuing our mini-features on recipients of the CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Award, this week we highlight distinguished scientist and entrepreneur, Dr Henry Lowe, the founder and executive chairman of Bio-Tech R&D Institute. Last Thursday he launched a range of nutraceutical products under the "Eden Gardens" brand made from indigenous plant extracts and scientifically proved to enhance health and wellness.
Dr Lowe explained that Jamaica was a cornucopia of 84 internationally recognised medical plants, only two of which had been successfully developed into accepted pharmaceuticals. One is the periwinkle, which we apparently knew about, but allowed the Canadians to "first" us. They have developed from this wild plant, expensive drugs, one of which cost US$5,000 per milligram. The other is cannabis (ganja), from which Jamaica's canasol was developed by Professor Manley West, Dr Albert Lockhart and Dr Lowe. It is now regarded internationally as one of the most effective treatments of glaucoma.
Then, when Dr Henry Lowe started his decade-long experimentation on the lowly ball moss, another miraculous indigenous plant became internationally accepted. An extract of the ball moss, commonly called "bird's nest" that we see on power lines all over Jamaica, has been developed into a nutraceutical called Alpha Prostate Formula 1, a chemo-preventative agent to support and enhance prostate health.
In one short year since he launched the Bio-Tech R&D Institute, Dr Lowe and his brilliant team of scientists have developed seven nutraceuticals which have all won FDA approval and a Certificate of Free Sale for the USA. The team has done extensive toxicity tests showing no negative side-effects, and their products are now set to enter the US$86-billion a year nutraceutical market. They have also developed five medicinal teas. Henry Lowe projects that they should be able to add to their workforce of 30 with each passing year and Jamaican farmers will increasingly benefit from their business.
Master of ceremonies for the event, Mrs Beverley Anderson Duncan, and several other speakers said they were awaiting the listing of Bio-Tech R&D on the Jamaica Stock Exchange so they could own shares in this unique organisation. Dr Lowe has not only created a business, but he has also created an entire new industry which will bring fame and well-needed prosperity to Jamaica. We salute this distinguished son of Jamaica.