GOVERNMENT OF SOMOA SIGNS AGREEMENT ABOUT PRODUCTION OF HIV/AIDS DRUG BASED ON LOCAL PLANT

Radio New Zealand International, 1 October 2004

The Samoa government has signed an agreement with an American university to research an indigenous tree, in the hope it will lead to a cure for HIV/AIDS. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley believe the bark of the mamala tree contains a prostratin gene that could help create an anti AIDS drug. The university has signed an agreement with the Samoa government to allow for samples of the tree bark to be analysed in California.

Samoa's minister of trade, Joseph Keil, says that the agreement ensures Samoa will be the sole provider of the bark material in the event the research is successful.

[Keil] It's a good agreement. It'll be good for the country, it's good for the people, it's good for the world, if this thing does come through. And we have the rights to the research, and we - only in Samoa - can produce or harvest the mamala tree, so that they have to deal with us and the people in Samoa, because it is a tropical tree and it probably grows in other Pacific countries. [End of recording]

Joseph Keil says it's the second royalty agreement they have entered into regarding the tree's prostratin, after a deal in 2001 with the AIDS Research Alliance.

Credit: Radio New Zealand International, Wellington, in English 1100 1 Oct 04