At a workshop in 2011 between Vietnam and the UK at the Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park, Dr Duong Ngoc Tu from the Chemistry Institute of the Vietnam Academy of Science & Technology, head of a team of researchers in natural compounds, said there had been no “overall view about turmeric-made product development” at that time.
British scientists wanted to uti advanced technologies to develop natural products. And the project on applying comprehensive solutions to develop high-quality products from Curcuma longa implemented by Tu and Prof Robert Edwards from Newcastle University got funding from the UK.
To create nano curcumin, one must have curcumin. And to have curcumin, one must have technology, synchronous extractors and have stable material growing area.
According to Tu, so as to obtain a high quality product, it is necessary to control the entire production process, from seed to cultivation, harvesting, preliminary processing, to extraction and purification.
Therefore, Tu and Edwards decided to implement the project in four phases. The major task in the first phase is optimizing seeds. In second phase, researchers work on the renovation of technology and curcumin refining.
After that, in the third phase, they work on the technology on preparing medicine that helps increase the effects of curcumin. The assessment of quality and product commercialization are dealt in the fourth phase.
Tu believes that there is no other project in Vietnam which can be implemented in such a comprehensive way as the curcumin project.
This is the reason why the project needs 60 scientists from prestigious universities, research centers and institutes from Vietnam and the UK.
There are many things that need to be settled. The project is divided into small components and each of group of researchers is in charge of certain components.
Since Vietnam’s researchers all have high qualifications who finished prestigious schools overseas, the cooperation between them and British scientists went smoothly.
The researchers from the Agriculture Academy and Herbal Medicine Institute, for example, selected the best turmeric varieties from hundreds of samples available in Vietnam, and then together with British scientists analyzed curcumin concentration in each varieties to find the best one.
After five years of implementation, outstanding achievements of the projects have been made public. Most importantly, a spinoff that grows, processes and produces curcumin and nano curcumin, Techbifarm, has been established.