​Industrial Chain Linking and Risk Control for Natural Functional Ingredients
Crisis Awareness
Dr. Jia Qi, chief scientist of Unigen, makes a speech on the China Natural Ingredient Conference 2015 to present a professional, in-depth analysis. Dr. Jia calls on the industry to beware of the danger, since plant extracts and natural ingredients are highly repetitive on both domestic and international conventions, and seldom enterprises have exclusive features among the seemingly great number of practitioners. A healthier development of the industry stems right from the self-discipline and innovation of the enterprises. He calls on enterprises to proactively develop new technologies to support their product innovation, thus escalating the health industry onto a higher level of development.
Dr. Jia analyzed  the growing trend of major consumption categories on the US market from a viewpoint of functional demands. While products targeting at weight loss by exercise, digestive health, diabetics, skin and liver detoxification register more than 5% of demand growth, products for joint health render a negative growth. The primary cause is few more functional components are developed for the joint health field. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and MSM are still standard ingredients, with some centering on the collagen formula, basically belonging to the traditional category. There’s no functional ingredients to support end product producers’ development of new formula. Innovation in the natural, functional functional ingredientss turns out the direct impetus for better selling of the health-oriented end products.
Drastic Change of the List of Natural Ingredients in a Decade
On each year’s China Natural Ingredient Conference, a list of best-selling natural ingredients will be figured out. Dr. Jia has learnt a lot about the supplement industrial chain through years’ concentration on the market of the US, South Korea and China. Extracts of hyperforin perforatum, gingko leaves and silibinin dominating the top 10 a decade ago are now replaced by extracts from Noni materials and mangosteen materials, curcumin and Omega-3 after 10 years’ innovation and discovery in the industry. New champions are either from fruits, which have secured safety through long term of use. Antioxidant ingredients from exotic berries are easier to be accepted by consumers to satisfy their seeking for new products. Or, those new best sellers have undergone adequate clinic verification, such as curcumin. Existing only in the labs of enterprises dreaming of innovation or database of scientists a decade ago, curcumin now becomes the best seller through years’ test, clinical inspection and in-depth exploration of function on human bodies. Also, by apparent effects, it offers terminal enterprises various formula options.
“Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon”– Based on Profound Scientific Research
Discovered in 1957, coenzyme Q10 is commercialized on a Nobel Prize level research. In 1958, Dr. Karl Folkers from the University of Texas, known as Father of Coenzyme Q10, was awarded the highest prize of the American Chemical Society, the Priestly Medal, for his confirmation of the chemical structure of coenzyme Q10. In 1978, Dr. Peter Michael from the University of Edinburgh was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the research on the relation between coenzyme Q10 and cell energy. Used along or in combination with Vitamin B6() as a strong antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 can prevent free adical’s decoration to receptors on immune cells and cell differentiation, and microtubule system related to activity, thus strengthening immune system and delaying senescence.
Since its discovery and separation over 4 decades ago, coenzyme Q10 has undergone nearly a hundred clinic researches. Then, coenzyme Q10’s support to human body is revealed as: useful in providing adequate oxygen for cardiac muscle, prevention of abrupt heart disease, and particularly important in dealing with the myocardial anoxia. Coenzyme Q10 can accelerate the metabolism of fat, filling the limbs and brain with adequate energy. Used in skin care products, it increases the skin elasticity.
“Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon”– Commercialized through Technological Innovation of the Enterprise
Yeast, plant leaves, animal organs(heart, liver and kidney), beef, soybean oil, sardine, mackerel and peanut have high content of coenzyme Q10, nearly 30mg available in 0.5kg of sardine, 1kg of beef or 1.5kg of peanut. There’s 0.5-1.5g existing in human bodies.
Japan and China are earlier and major countries to produce coenzyme Q10. Kingdomway of Xiamen, China, Nisshin Seifun Foods Co., Ltd. of Japan, and Kyowa Hakko Bio Co., Ltd. of Japan have all realized industrial-level steady supply of production of coenzyme Q10 by microbiological fermentation method.
Supply Chain Increasingly Highlighted by Terminal Enterprises
Alongside the development of the health industry, health products manufacturers attach greater importance to the supply chain of functional ingredientss. As natural ingredient suppliers have higher positions, terminal enterprises tend to reposition their ingredient partners. The consensus is gradually reached that ingredients serve as basis for the success of terminal products and decide the success of the terminal products. Innovation of terminal products is impossible without clear function support by the ingredients. Also, new retailing channels intensify the competition of price and quality and rapid updating of terminal health-care products on the market proposes higher requirements on the new ingredients and functions. Higher requirements are brought about also by consumers’ capacity to rapidly acquire information on background, effect and safety of the ingredients.
Management and Control of Ingredient Supplier’s R&D Risk
There’s not enough understanding of the target market, true demand of consumers and producers on the competitive market, and research orientations to turn expertise into products in line with the market demand. Enduring investment and accumulation are needed to put in place adequate samples for selection. It involves advanced technologies, great involvement of scientific strength and equipment, prolonged R&D duration and big chance of failure to choose target of biological activity to guide the ingredient selection and choose model of biological activity to verify the function of natural ingredients.
Scientific market investigation will delve into demands to decide the orientation for research and development. The scientific consultant committee comprised by medical and nutrient experts, scholars and senior management in charge of R&D in enterprises will guard the pass. Medicines already clinically verified shall be used for target of R&D. Through open, innovative partnership, new bio-technologies will be ushered in to initiate ingredient sample library. The gate management system will be adopted for project evaluation to ensure the research and development is done in a proper way to decide resource allocation with passes.
Clinical Verification Needed for Natural, Functional Ingredients
  1. Most compelling evidence for safety and effectiveness of the natural, functional ingredients particularly required by terminal enterprises
  2. Results of clinical verification of functions required to be provided by ingredient suppliers and terminal product producers as specified by laws, thus supporting the functional claim
  3. How to prove it effective and beneficial for sub-healthy people
  4. Great investment of manpower, materials and time
  5. Too many exterior factors beyond control, with hardly predictable results and high risk of failure
Risks shall be properly handled in clinic verification of natural, functional ingredients:
  1. Interiormanagement by experienced professionals.
  2. Consultation of would-be clients, and clinic or nutritive research institutes
  3. Double blind, placebo control, random and IRB review protocol are prime standards
  4. Subcontracting to third party commercial/academic clinic or nutritive research institute
  5. Communication required among the R&D, clinic, commercial and operating teams for design of clinic verification
  6. Years’ relevant clinic experience required for clinic researchers, and relevant laws and GCP clinic design required to be complied to exclude uncontrollable exterior factors
Innovation of Natural Ingredients, Attainable for Chinese!
Nature and Discovery of Artemisinin– Gift of TCM by Tu Youyou
•      "We researched over 2000 herbal drugs and selected 640 ones that might be able to cure malaria. Finally, we gained 380 extracts from 200 herbal drugs to use for the anti-malaria test on laboratory rats.”
•      “I was inspired by the prescription of Ge Hong of the West Jin Dynasty. On Oct. 4, 1971, I first managed to gain artemisinin extract with aether of low boiling point, and observed in the lab to find the extract has a 100% suppression ratio over plasmodium.
This turning point shows up just after 190 failures.
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