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Qingdao makes significant breakthrough in marine pharma

(chinadaily.com.cn) | 2022-09-22

Qingdao in East China's Shandong province has made a breakthrough in marine pharma with the BG136, the sixth marine drug developed in China, which has finally entered the clinical trials stage and will become the 16th marine drug in the world after it hits the market.

Marine drugs or marine pharmacognosy is the investigation and identification of medically important plants and animals in the marine environment. Generally the drugs are obtained from the marine species of bacteria, virus, algae, fungi and sponges.

Extracted from the Antarctic seaweed, the BG136 drug is a kind of β-glucan mixture that is said to control and kill tumor cells by activating the body's immune system and enhancing the body's immunity. It was developed by the CP Pharmaceutical Group Qingdao, the Maine Biomedical Research Institute of Qingdao and the Ocean Unversity of China.

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A bird's-eye view of the CP Pharmaceutical Group Qingdao plant and offices. [Photo/Bandao News]

CP Pharmaceutical Group Qingdao, founded in 1994, is the only national marine drug pilot base located in Qingdao. The company has been fully aware of the importance of marine resources and has been committed to the research and development of new drugs.

Over the past few years, it has worked with a research team led by Guan Huashi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and has successfully developed four marine drugs including the PSS. That was China's first marine drug and the fifth in the world recognized by international academic and medical circles.

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A quality analysis instrument for new drug research at the CP Pharmaceutical Group Qingdao. [Photo/Bandao News]

The company spends 8 percent of its annual turnover on the research and development of new drugs, which is well above the average in the industry. The research and development of the BG136 alone cost over 20 million yuan ($2.85 million) from 2019 to 2020.

In 2019, Qingdao set up a Blue Drugstore Development Fund with a total scale of 5 billion yuan. This was to support and guide Qingdao-based institutions that worked on the R&D of marine drugs to cooperate with leading pharma groups and investment institutions and help implement the results of the research and development of innovative marine drugs.

As the only national marine drug pilot base, CP Pharmaceutical Group Qingdao established a mutually exclusive strategic partnership with the research team led by Guan Huashi and strengthened its cooperation with the Ocean University of China as early as 2018. That has yielded a number of successes over the past four years.

The company currently has more than 1,000 employees and nine production workshops. The products are divided into four categories: marine medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, chemical medicine and health food, involving a total of more than 60 varieties and more than 80 specifications.