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Alta. clover eyed for osteoporosis treatment

Alberta forage growers could pick up a “premium market” for red clover if an Edmonton natural health firm’s osteoporosis treatment makes it to the commercial stage.

SinoVeda Canada, owned by former University of Alberta pharmaceutical sciences professor, Dr. Yun K. Tam, and his wife Dr. Nuzhat Tam-Zaman, has picked up a $2.9 million investment from Avac Ltd. for “pre-commercial development” of the three-year-old “phytomedicinal” company.

Avac, a Calgary-based venture capital fund specializing in value-added businesses in the “agrivalue” sector, described SinoVeda as a “very promising opportunity” to build on Alberta’s bioprocessing, functional food and nutraceutrical business cluster.

Phytomedicine uses plants, plant parts or isolated phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of human ailments. SinoVeda fits with Avac’s mandate as it “uses made-in-Alberta technology to identify, purify and concentrate specific bio-active ingredients that are being used to develop new markets for natural health products,” Avac investment manager Craig Urton said in a release Wednesday.

Along with its plans to use components of red clover to treat osteoporosis, SinoVeda is developing a Chinese herbal ingredient to treat and prevent angina, Avac said.

The investment firm said SinoVeda is also “perfecting the extraction of high-quality calcium from cultured pearls,” and would add flavour to the finished product for sale as a supplement to dietary calcium.

SinoVeda is working with Asian investors and distributors and will also pursue approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its products, Avac said.

“With companies like ours, investment money and recognition of our work is everything,” Tam said in Avac’s release. “With an organization like Avac investing in our company after conducting its own due diligence, we get money and recognition at the same time. That is extremely important.”

Avac was launched in 1997 by the province with added start-up money from the federal government. Its investments have included companies such as Botaneco, Ceapro and CV Technology, the maker of Cold Fx.

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