Wild Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo (铁皮石斛) (“Dendrobium”) is a rare and endangered orchid under the Conventional on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list. It can be found in tropical and subtropical areas of China at altitudes above 1,600 metres.
Due to the economic value of wild Dendrobium, the plant has been overharvested for five decades to nearly extinction in the wild. Wild Dendrobium is extremely rare and is considered first-rate, where it can be sold for as high as US$16,000 per kilogram. Because of its rarity, most of the current Dendrobium has been cultivated from its assorted species. Traditionally cultivated Dendrobium is worth in the range of US$1,000-3,000 per kilogram in the US and other Asian countries.
Dendrobium is a popular product in China and among Chinese societies around the world. Almost all of the Chinese Medical Halls globally sell Dendrobium-related products. The popularity of Dendrobium has even resulted in the establishment of online shops and mobile phone application stores in China that sell Dendrobium-related products.
The traditional cultivation of Dendrobium usually requires approximately three to five years of growth to reach maturity, when it can be effectively harvested and used. Furthermore, Dendrobium is a monocot plant, which means that it does not have secondary tissues to grow and the moment the plant reaches maturity, its meristems will cease to reproduce.
The Company’s proprietary technology of isolating meristematic plant stem cells is the solution to the problems faced with the traditional method of cultivating Dendrobium and processing of Dendrobium extract.
The existing Dendrobium market is generating an estimated 8,000-10,000 tons worth of sales annually in China, with a projected annual growth rate of 10-15%. In order to bridge the supply and demand gap for Dendrobium in China, the Chinese government launched the 星火计划 (Xin Huo Ji Hua) programme to support basic and applied research on Dendrobium in 2012.
Dendrobium has a high medicinal value and it is used as an active ingredient in TCM products for more than a thousand years. Dendrobium, together with Ginseng, Cordyceps, Ling Zhi, Snow Lotus, Fu Ling, He Shou Wu, Seawater Pearls and Rou Cong Rong, are historically reputed to be China’s “nine immortalities of life” (中华九大仙草).
The TCM products which contain Dendrobium, are used to:
Nourish the stomach and kidney
Clean toxins from the eyes and lungs
Alleviate high blood sugar levels caused by the consumption of antibiotics
Activate the functions of macrophages and T lymphocytes to enhance the immune system
Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that have the remarkable potential to go through numerous cycles of cell division to produce more stem cells and develop into many different cell types. They are present in all living things including plants, animals, humans and algae. Stem cells are currently in the development of various therapies to treat human diseases and are also utilised as food ingredients, and in the production of beauty and skincare products, dietary supplements, and other healthcare products.
Scientists are anticipating early breakthroughs in the research of stem cells to provide alternatives to the current human reliance on drugs, devices and medical procedures. The science of stem cells therefore serves as a foundation to capitalise on business opportunities across multiple markets by applying it to the discovery, development and commercialisation of innovative therapies to treat a broad array of diseases and disorders.
Plant stem cells are innately undifferentiated cells found in the meristems of plants. A meristem is the tissue in most plants where growth takes place and the highest concentration of plant stem cells can be found at the root or shoot of the plant. Plant stem cells are totipotent, which means a small amount of meristem plant stem cells can proliferate and differentiate into full functioning independent ‘daughter’ plants with the correct inducements from environment stimulation or plant hormones.
SCU intends to procure Dendrobium seedlings or ‘mother plants’ from farms in China, from which the Company will extract stem cells.
SCU will use Fingerprint mapping technologies such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to identify and determine the authenticity of the Dendrobium, test for active constituents and ensure its potency.
The extracted stem cells will then be manipulated and cultured before being multiplied and grown in a bioreactor to produce Dendrobium stem cell extract. The Dendrobium stem cell extract is subsequently processed into a liquid or power form before being packaged and distributed to customers.
SCU’s proprietary technology gives the Company a first mover advantage in the production of Dendrobium stem cell extract. The technology allows for the stable regeneration of stem cells and the entire production process can be completed in approximately two to three months as opposed to traditional methods which take about three to five years.
SCU’s stable stem cell regeneration of Dendrobium
Image A shows a quiescent centre-derived Dendrobium stem cell after 40 days and Image B shows a quiescent centre-derived Dendrobium stem cell after 120 days.
SCU’s R&D Laboratory on Dendrobium stem cell
Polysaccharide is the active ingredient in Dendrobium extract which determines its efficacy, that is, the higher concentration of polysaccharide, the better. SCU conducted its own research comparing its Dendrobium stem cell extract to the Dendrobium extract samples from the traditional cultivation method and found its levels of Polysaccharide comparable.
Comparison of polysaccharide concentration between traditional Dendrobium extract and SCU’s Dendrobium stem cell extract
|Dendrobium samples||% of Polysaccharide|
|SCU’s Dendrobium stem cell extract||37.82±0.60|
|Traditional Dendrobium extract||35.25±0.75|
The main difference between the two is that SCU’s Dendrobium stem cell extract takes approximately two to three months to produce as opposed to the traditional method that takes about three to five years to produce.
Traditional Cultivation of Dendrobium for extraction
SCU intends to market its Dendrobium stem cell extract to the following industry segments:
Hair care products
Food and beverage
As the pioneer for Dendrobium stem cell extract, SCU will approach global traders, TCM manufacturers, beauty product manufacturers, hair care product specialists and dietary supplement makers to market its Dendrobium stem cell extract in either powder or liquid form.
Internal (Oral) Use – Powder Form (Dendro-CTM)
SCU will be producing its Dendrobium stem cell extract in powder form for oral consumption. This product can be widely used in dietary supplements, as it allows health product manufacturers to package them in capsule form or packet form for sale in retail stores, online shops and mobile phone application stores.
The Dendrobium stem cell extract powder can also be packaged into sachets or formulated into consumer food and beverage products. Being flavourless, it can act as food additive for daily food and beverage products, making it convenient, efficient, affordable and ready for consumption. SCU will explore and cooperate with various manufacturers and distributors to market the sachets as a new consumer lifestyle product.
External Use – Liquid form (Bium-CTM)
SCU intends to also produce Dendrobium stem cell extract in liquid form for external use. Current scientific research has provided evidence that plant stem cells may be activation agents of human stem cells as they have potent antioxidant and anti-aging properties. Due to these properties, Dendrobium stem cell extract can be a beneficial ingredient for battling aging and hair loss. As such, SCU plans to market Dendrobium stem cell extract in liquid form to the beauty and hair care industries for external applications.