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Knowledge Transfer Partnership project - Fighting disease using bee 'propolis'

KTP supports natural medicine manufacturing company in pursuit of becoming a world authority on research and development of Apiceutical - medicines from the beehive.

Honeybees combine plant material (mostly resin) which they add to and transform in the hive to produce propolis. It is propolis which defends the hive from infection. Its range of biological properties include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and analgesic. Propolis has been used for thousands of years as a medicine to treat a wide range of diseases.

There are many potential applications of propolis . Nature’s Laboratory Ltd, a natural medicine producer in Whitby, have been working with the University of Bradford’s Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to characterise and quantify the compounds of propolis in different bee colonies around the world - part of their BeePharma Africa Project … Local Help for Local Health.

James Fearnley, CEO, Natures Laboratory 

“The KTP project has delivered a quantum leap forward for our business. Engagement with this scheme has allowed us to bring first class scientific talent into the business, but at a cost that is manageable. We have always been focused on R&D and the KTP scheme finally allowed us to bring these capabilities in-house. The impact has been seen in the development of quality standards, products and processes right across the company in a way that means we build quality and continuous improvement into all that we do.” James Fearnley, CEO at Natures Laboratory

Anant Paradkar, Professor of Pharmaceutical Engineering at the University of Bradford, has been working with the company on propolis related research for over ten years, including a previous Knowledge Transfer Partnership. With the support of KTP Associate, Shankar Katekhaye, who is now working in the company, this latest KTP project has helped create the first ‘Propolis Activity Factor’ for Nature’s Laboratory. The PAF identifies the specific biological activity of propolis from different geographic regions relating this to its potential medicinal benefits. The company has been researching this remarkable substance for 30 years and is now recognised as a world authority on its properties providing a powerful backdrop to developing a global market.

Natures Laboratory, established in the 1980s, has been providing high quality herbal and bee products to practitioners, the trade, and the public for over 30 years.

The KTP has brought additional benefits in the form of:

  • a new embedded quality management system

  • a new supplier approval process

  • a company herbarium

  • a voice at the table of the International Standards Organisation

  • increased in-house research and development capabilities