Volume 10, Number 8 November 29, 2002

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U of S spinoff herbal treatment firm on shortlist for national innovation award 'business plan' competition

A University of Saskatchewan spin-off company that has come up with a herbal treatment for impotence has been chosen as one of six finalists in the 2002 Innovations Challenge sponsored by the University of Toronto Innovations Foundation and its Innovations Network.

A U of S news release issued Nov. 26 said the Challenge is a national business plan competition that recognizes promising technology-focused business opportunities. The winner of the third annual competition was scheduled to be announced Nov. 27 at an awards ceremony in Toronto.

The winner is eligible for up to $500,000 in equity investment.

BioNatCom Technologies Inc., founded by U of S technology transfer company UST Inc. and U of S Physiology researcher Dr. Rui Wang, is currently patenting two herbal products - a treatment for impotence and another for hypertension.

"We know there's strong market potential for both products - worldwide more than 152 million men suffer from erectile disfunction and 50 million people in the U.S. alone have high blood pressure," said Branko Peterman, President of UST Inc., which owns BioNatCom.

"With sufficient funding, the firm could enter the nutraceutical and functional food markets within two years."

"BuSY", the commercial name of the herb being patented for erectile dysfunction, is more potent and will be much cheaper than Viagra once it hits the markets, the news release stated.

In animal tissue studies, BuSY allows the muscles in the penis to relax, increasing the blood flow that results in an erection.

"ExBu", which has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensive rats, is an extract from an edible mushroom that grows in China and northern Saskatchewan.

High blood pressure was lowered after the rats had been given the herb and maintained at the lower level for at least one month after the termination of ExBu feeding.

BioNatCom is seeking investors so that further animal testing and human clinical trials can be conducted for both products. If the tests are successful, the firm expects the herbal treatments to be sold eventually in health stores.

Wang, who has both a medical degree and a doctorate in physiology, is also trained in traditional Chinese herbal medicine, on which both treatments are based.

UST is seeking U.S. and international patents for the technology and will license the exclusive worldwide rights to BioNatCom.

Each year, 30 to 40 companies submit business plans to the competition. Six finalists are then chosen to pitch their business plans to a panel of leading venture capital firms. Judging criteria include the presence of a strong management team, a technology with significant market potential, and the existence of a recognized market need.

For more information about the competition, visit: http://innovationsfoundation.excelerator.ca/

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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