With support from the Department of Science and Technology's Business Innovation through Science and Technology (DOST-BIST) for Industry program, Herbanext Laboratories successfully launched the country’s very first scale-up facility for research on herbal extracts last December 2020. Investing a total of 11.7 million pesos, the DOST supported the acquisition and scaling up of equipment, and the development of the required facilities for the laboratory.
Based in Negros Occidental, the Applied Research and Innovation Laboratory (ARIL) aims to upscale R&D products and prepare them for commercialization. Armed with several state-of-the-art equipment, the laboratory will focus on development of herbal drugs, food supplements, functional foods, herbal cosmetics, and animal health products from the academe, government research centers, and the industry.
ARIL will follow a 7-step strategy in developing food supplements:
- Pre-feasibility studies or the analysis on the cost-competitiveness of the product;
- Standardization protocols or the identification of the marker compounds or active ingredients for the would-be drugs;
- Raw material processing or the identification of the raw materials to be used, as well as the strategy to cultivate them;
- Ingredient manufacturing which includes the extraction, concentration, and spray-drying processes;
- Formulation and packaging;
- Intellectual property rights and trademark applications; and
- Registration to the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We anticipate that the launching of ARIL will bring significant developments in the country’s landscape of herbal drugs research in the coming years,” DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya says. “As the first of its kind here in the Philippines, we are hoping that our researchers and partners in health, especially those engaged in drug discovery and development, will take advantage of this opportunity to scale up the fruits of R&D,” he added.
Part of the Science for Change initiative, the DOST’s BIST program aims to facilitate the acquisition of strategic and relevant technologies by Filipino companies to support R&D activities.