Malaysia’s government to boost economy with biotech

Global Business

Malaysia is home to some of the most ancient and diverse rain forests on the planet. And with roughly half of all pharmaceutical medicines being derived from plants, bacteria, fungi, and many more herbal remedies over the past three decades, the potential of living within those forests is vast.

Malaysia’s government is banking on biotechnology to be a key driver of the country’s economy. Many Malaysian and international companies are looking to tap into the vast economic potential of its rich biodiversity and traditional medicines to produce new health products.

CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Follow Rian Maelzer on Twitter @rdamael

Tongkat ali is one of several traditional Malaysian plants showing great medicinal and commercial promise. In purified form, it is now available in health stores and pharmacies in many countries as a nutritional supplement touting benefits such as boosting energy and fertility, and optimizing testosterone levels.

Biotropics Malaysia Berhad, a local biotechnology company, exports the vast bulk of its output to the United States as tongkat ali extract, which companies repackage under their own brands. Tengku Shahrir Tengku Adnan, CEO of Biotropics, said the products were initially inspired by traditions, local tribes and practitioners. The company employs indigenous, tribal people to source the materials and then incorporates science and quality into them.

Malaysia’s jungles are home to more than one-tenth of the world’s species. The country also has a rich history of traditional medicine, following not only indigenous traditions, but also Chinese and Indian ones.

Dr. Mohd Nazlee Kamal, CEO of BiotechCorp, believes that there are even more potentials in the jungle. “But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said.

Erik Gordon discusses biotech industry outlook in Malaysia

For more on the growing biotech industry in Malaysia and other Asian countries, CCTV America’s Michelle Makori spoke to Erik Gordon, clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.