Mon | Jun 14, 2021

UPDATED: NCU partners with ZON International Holdings on nutraceuticals

Published:Sunday | June 30, 2019 | 12:00 AM
President of the Northern Caribbean University Dr Lincoln Edwards

Northern Caribbean University (NCU) has partnered with ZON International Holdings Limited to launch an ‘Institutional and National Transformation Drive’, which is aimed at raising funds to improve the Mandeville-based institution’s research capacity over the next 18 months.

NCU says the funds are contingent on the sale of two million tins of ZON Teasan, a nutraceutical product that was developed from scientific work done by the university’s researchers.

This was disclosed recently by Dr Trevor Gardner, vice-president of ZON International Holdings.  

Gardner, who made the announcement during a ceremony on June 24 to mark the 20th anniversary of NCU receiving university status, outlined that the drive includes:

*Improving NCU’s medicinal research capabilities

*Expanding NCU's agricultural activities to benefit the community, as well as promote science, technology and innovation.

*Expanding research into other nutraceuticals indigenous to Jamaica.

Gardner specified that the funds intended for NCU will be targeted towards improving the university’s research capacity to develop other nutraceutical products that can contribute to the development of that fledgling industry and the Jamaican economy.

He also identified the Learning and Earning and Earning Agricultural programme (LEAP), run by the HEART Trust/NTA, as an area that is targeted to received funding under the institutional and national transformation drive.

In this regard, NCU will make lands available for the cultivation of the McGhie Jamaica Cinnamon Ginger from which ZON Teasan is produced, thus providing opportunities for agriculture students to finance their tertiary education.

NCU President Dr Lincoln Edwards pointed out that the partnership will create the opportunity for the university to establish a naturopathic school and provide treatment using indigenous plants.

“This ambition is consistent with our SDA philosophy and focus on health. This partnership will also afford an increased opportunity for edutourism and health tourism as we cater to students of naturopathic medicine and patients seeking naturopathic care,” Edwards said. 

Initial laboratory analysis by a team of NCU researchers on a ginger-like plant several years ago led to the patenting of a variant called the McGhie JCG (Jamaican Cinnamon Ginger) in the United States, Canada, 27 European countries and pending in Brazil among others.

Professor Vincent Wright, of the NCU research team, explained that the varied micro-climatic conditions of the island is conducive to the growth of the plant and give it its distinctiveness, a blend of cinnamon and ginger aromas. He said studies have confirmed that the McGhie JCG plant has powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties, along with high levels of vitamins and minerals. It also has 18 of the 20 amino acids that the body requires.

Wright, who is dean of the College of Natural & Applied Sciences, Allied Health and Nursing Science at NCU, further noted that the plant has the compound known as 6-shogaol, which has anti-cancer properties on prostate and breast cells. He added that special formulation of this plant extract was also found to be effective against multiple myeloma.

According to Professor Errol Morrison, director general of the National Commission on Science and Technology, the nutraceutical "is the ‘sip’ of the iceberg".

Morrison declared that "Mandeville will never be the same again”.

The NCU research team consisted of Wright, Professor Sampson Omeregie, Lemore Jones and graduate research student Kacie Reid.

NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that NCU is to receive $1 billion over the next 18 months from ZON International Holdings to expand its scientific research capability and output and that the funds will arise from anticipated sales of products. The university has since clarified that the partnership is aimed at raising funds to improve the institution's research capacity. It added that funds are contingent on the sale of two million tins of ZON Teasan nutraceutical product.

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