The Dabur Research Foundation (DRF), part of healthcare and food products major Dabur Group, is keen to set up a drug discovery center in Oman to capitalise on its plans to set up a marine biotechnology center.
"We are keen to set up a drug discovery center in Oman and using their marine resources for developing nutraceuticals. Given that Oman has already committed to set up a marine biotechnology center we are keen to set up research activities there in an area that holds good potential," Rama Mukherjee, the DRF president for research and development, told IANS.
The company is in the process of formulating a firm proposal for submission to the Oman government for consideration and joining hands.
In over two decades of its operations in India, the DRF has been focusing on a range of diverse areas including ayurveda, testing and developing drugs, researching new cancer remedies and developing healthy and natural foods among others.
Working on developing and improving safety profile of nanoparticle delivery systems for anticancer drugs in India, the DRF is hopeful of being able to commercially market the cancer drug in two years.
Looking at the Middle East to do research and development for commercially viable projects, the DRF sees Oman's plans to develop marine resources as an opportunity to combine forces to tap the potential for developing new products that can be marketed globally.
"From our side we are ready to set up the venture with a likely initial investment of $10 million. But in five to seven years it would take to start getting results, we see the investment rising to over $100 million," said Mukherjee.
She revealed the proposal has already been discussed with Bassam Soussi of College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences in the Sultan Qaboos University of Oman, who is steering the Marine Biotechnology Center project that is expected to benefit the entire Gulf region.
The new center is expected to have special ships with laboratories on board for study of marine species.
If taken seriously, Mukherjee feels, marine resources could offer a lot of nutraceuticals or food supplements and nutrients that can help cure a number of ailments like cancer.
The global nutraceutical market currently has several major players like Wockhardt, Lupin, Morepen Laboratories, Dabur and Himalaya competing in a market pegged at around $74 billion.
"We are looking for investments in Oman partly as we want early discovery done there. We also want to do the process and manufacturing there for marketing the product across the world. We also want to develop a marine depository in Oman," said Mukherjee.
The project envisages research and development of both nutraceuticals and therapeutic drugs. All these activities are expected to generate a market for trained manpower within Oman and also open up avenues for entrepreneurs.
Mukherjee sees potential to develop anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-obesity and other such drugs that could help improve the quality of life.
Within the country also DRF is networking with over a score of universities and institutions to develop products and drugs that could provide cures or improve health of human beings.