1 Oct 2004

Bark of Samoa tree may hold secret to AIDs cure

3:15 pm on 1 October 2004

The Samoa government have 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 the agreement ensures Samoa will be the sole provider of the bark material in the event the research is successful.

"Its a good agreement. It'll be good for the country, its good for the people and its good the world if this thing does come through. And we have the rights to the research, and we in Samoa will have the rights to harvest the mamala tree with people in Samoa, as its a tropical tree and it probably grows in other Pacific countries"

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