Samoans to profit from local tree
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CTA. 2005. Samoans to profit from local tree. Spore 118. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47887
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore118.pdf
A product derived from a Samoan tree is showing promise as an HIV/AIDS drug, and islanders will get half of the profits from its sale if clinical trials, already under way, prove successful.
A product derived from a Samoan tree is showing promise as an HIV/AIDS drug, and islanders will get half of the profits from its sale if clinical trials, already under way, prove successful. The Samoan government and the University of California, Berkeley, have signed an agreement to share the profits equally from the potential anti-HIV drug, prostatin, derived from the bark of Samoa s indigenous Mamala tree. The drug is also being tested in clinical trials by the AIDS Research Alliance, which has pledged to give 20% of any profits to the country. Samoa-based ethnobotanist Dr. Paul Alan Cox, who has spent 30 years researching local products with the aim of bringing them to global markets, first learned of prostatin s anti-viral properties from local healers. The drug, extracted from the bark of the mamala tree (Homolanthus nutans), has been hown to force the AIDS virus out of the body s immune cells, exposing them to anti-AIDS drugs that are already being used. Samoa s 50% share will be allocated to the government, to villages, and to the families of healers who first taught Dr.Cox how to use the plant. The agreement also states that UC Berkeley and Samoa will negotiate distribution of the drug in developing nations at a minimal profit if trials prove successful. Dr. Cox, who has lived in Samoa for 30 years, says he hopes this source of income will help to discourage Samoans from sacrificing their already dwindling forests for logging and road buildig activities. The ethnobotanist has already helped to market shampoos, moisturising creams and other products based on local plants used by indigenous people, with a share of the profits going to help communities in the Pacific.