Chios mas­tic grow­ers in­vest­ing in pharma

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY DIM­I­TRA MANIFAVA

The Chios Mastiha Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (EMX) and its sub­sidiary Mediterra are look­ing into the pro­duc­tion of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts based on the gum of the mas­tic tree, which would not only en­rich the as­so­ci­a­tion’s port­fo­lio but also add value to the prod­uct.

The de­ci­sion to move ahead with the ini­tia­tive fol­lows the Euro­pean Medicine Agency’s recog­ni­tion of the ben­e­fi­cial prop­er­ties of the gum pro­duced by mas­tic trees.

EMX said at a re­cent press con­fer­ence that the Euro­pean Union’s agency for the eval­u­a­tion of medic­i­nal prod­ucts has rec­og­nized mas­tic for its abil­i­ties to help com­bat in­di­ges­tion, heal skin abra­sions and ease in­flam­ma­tions. EMX al­ready works with medicine pro­duc­ers such as Iasis Pharma, which pro­duces in­di­ges­tion tablets, tooth­paste and chew­ing gum. The recog­ni­tion of mas­tic’s cu­ra­tive prop­er­ties and its po­ten­tial as an ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in medicines, how­ever, is ex­pected to broaden its use sig­nif­i­cantly.

Ac­cord­ing to Yian­nis Man­dalas, CEO of Mediterra, there are plans for EMX it­self to pro­duce phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts rather than serve ex­clu­sively as the sup­plier of the raw in­gre­di­ent to medicine firms.

It is worth not­ing that from 2003 to 2014, EMX pro­vided fund­ing to 29 re­search pro­grams, 27 of which were ded­i­cated to ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal uses of mas­tic gum. Of these 27 pro­grams, nine were clin­i­cal tri­als and 18 were con­ducted in lab­o­ra­to­ries. EMX has forged col­lab­o­ra­tions with 10 univer­si­ties in Greece, as well as ed­u­ca­tion and re­search in­sti­tu­tions abroad and at Greek hos­pi­tals. The aim of these part­ner­ships is to dis­cover more uses for mas­tic gum, for which the is­land of Chios is renowned. Plans are also un­der way to launch by the end of this year the Cen­ter of Ap­plied Re­search for Mastiha, which will cre­ate net­works be­tween the aca­demic and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties. Share­hold­ers in the cen­ter will be the Chios Mastiha Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Mediterra, Iasis Pharma and for­eign part­ners, among them Dutch and Swiss com­panied that spe­cial­ize in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal re­search and mar­ket­ing.

The press con­fer­ence was also ad­dressed by Econ­omy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Stathakis, who hailed EMX’s ef­forts as a “par­a­digm of the way that a very strong Greek prod­uct can be de­vel­oped by in­no­va­tive ap­pli­ca­tions.”

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