Contacts: Dr. Francoise Barbira-Freedman, Department of Social Anthropology
Mentor: Dr. Catherine Beech

Dr. Barbira-Freedman has spent many years studying the medical traditions of indigenous Peruvian peoples, and compiling a database of over 400 Peruvian plants with medicinal properties. All the plants have been carefully selected to be under no threat of extinction, and to be easy to cultivate at a commercial scale without needing large quantities of water or nutrients. She set up her company Ampika to commercialise this knowledge and return a share of the profits back to Peru to help revitalise and preserve the traditional knowledge which is at risk of being lost.

Ampika has worked with NeuroSolutions Ltd. to develop a patented extraction and purification process for their first plant extract, which has demonstrable pain relieving properties. Animal trials suggested good efficacy, and the first clinical trial in periodontal procedures has shown that this effects at least as good, if not better, than the usual lignacaine gel.

There are now two questions to be addressed by the i-Team. The first question is how could external pain-relieving herbal products like this be used, and which of these uses has the greatest market potential. The second is how best to deliver these plant extracts, whether as a component of an existing product (for example, a toothpaste like Sensodyne) or as a stand-alone product (for example, as a numbing spray or gel). The team will also need to provide recommendations on which companies might become development and commercial partners for Ampika and enable these products to be brought to market.