Nature’s Laboratory, a North Yorkshire based company, had developed an innovative water soluble version of propolis, a resin collected by bees, which is marketed under the BeeVital brand. Propolis is used by bees as their immune defence mechanism and has therapeutic effects. One of the barriers to the commercial success of this product however was its strong, pungent odour. METRC funded a collaboration between researchers at the Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science (CPES) at the University of Bradford and Nature’s Laboratory to create a process to deodorise the product. This project led to Nature’s Laboratory and the CPES being nominated for a “Partners in Innovation” award at the Yorkshire Forward Innovator/10 Awards.
Nature’s Laboratory and Bradford filed a joint patent on the process that gave the company full marketing rights of the product. The product has since been successfully sold to a major Korean milk producer and incorporated into a fortified milk product.
The partners have also developed bio-adhesive gel of propolis (B-Gel) to fight mouth ulcers. The gel is suitable for both adults and children with prolonged and targeted action. B-Gel is due to be launched soon.
The relationship between the university and Nature’s Laboratory has developed into a long term partnership and in January 2011 the two parties entered into a 2 year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). The aim of this KTP is to develop innovative and consumer acceptable propolis containing products for therapeutic, nutraceutical and personal care markets.
"There is a substantial market for propolis-based products, particularly in China, the USA and South Asia. The main stumbling block has been the solubility and odour issues, which our formulation overcomes. A problem for mouth gels is that adhesion to the skin membrane inside the mouth is difficult - because of the nature of the surface, the gel can simply slide off. But our new product B-Gel adheres more effectively to the specific areas in the mouth prolonging the residence and effectiveness of propolis ."
Professor Anant Paradkar, Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science, The University of Bradford
“We have been involved in this research for 20 years and have just released a paper about how propolis can be used to help fight MRSA, This partnership is very exciting as propolis is very pungent smelling and what we have been doing is removing that smell without reducing its effects. Our product is in demand from a customer in Korea to be used over there and the implications are massive.”
James Fearnley, Nature’s Laboratory
For more information about this collaboration view the video below or download the PDF on the right.