Tsumura Establishes Technology for Cultivating Licorice Product of Joint Research with Chinese Groups and University
Tsumura & Co. (Headquarters: Tokyo, President: Junichi Yoshii) has established the technology for cultivating licorice, one of the crude drugs for kampo preparation as a result of joint research with CNTIC Trading Co., Ltd. ("CNTIC") and Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and completed proceedings for patent registration in China.
Licorice is a primary crude drug used as a raw material in medical, food, and cosmetic products. The source depends on wild varieties growing naturally in arid regions of northern China, so there is concern about desertification caused by overhunting and resource depletion, along with increased demand for licorice. The critical challenge was realizing licorice cultivation.
Tsumura & Co. has engaged in joint research on cultivating licorice in China since 2001. It is essential that the raw material conforms to the Japanese pharmacopoeia standards for crude drugs when it is used in kampo preparations for medical use. Though the cultivation itself was not very difficult, the greatest challenge was satisfying the condition that the content of glycyrrhizic acid, the active ingredient, is 2.5% or greater.
Having set varied cultivation conditions and made efforts to meet the standards in the 10-year joint research, the company successfully grew licorice containing glycyrrhizic acid at a percentage exceeding 3.5% on average with a growth period of one year and three months. It has also been confirmed that the component composition between wild varieties and cultured plants can be equivalent.
For the developed cultivation method, Tsumura & Co. received a notification on granting of a patent from the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China and completed registration proceedings. To spread the cultivation of licorice in China, the company will license the technology free of charge after consultation with CNTIC, the joint applicants and Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, if the call-to-action of patent is requested.
The joint research on cultivation also included examination of a mechanization that assumed large-scale cultivation. This served as a guide to introduction into future cultivation.
By promoting the cultivation of wild crude drugs, Tsumura & Co. is ensuring a proactive approach toward preserving crude drug resources and environmental issues.