Scientist returns to build long-life pill plant

A SCIENTIST who has helped create a revolutionary anti-ageing pill has returned home to the Lothians in a bid to establish a new research and manufacturing plant.

Steve Parkinson’s United States company CereMedix has developed the pill, which is said to offset the ageing process and potentially allow people to live up to the age of 120.

Now the former Liberton schoolboy has flown into the Capital to meet Scottish Enterprise officials and investors to discuss setting up a plant to help make the pills. The proposed new centre, which Mr Parkinson hopes to set up at Roslin, in Midlothian, would make peptides, the active ingredient in the pill.

The 20,000 square foot facility, which has been earmarked for a site opposite the Pentlands Biopark, would also be used for cutting-edge research.

The Scottish base for CereMedix would be expected to pump millions of pounds into the local economy.

But any deal hinges on whether Mr Parkinson can secure incentives such as tax breaks to set up the centre at Roslin. The company is also looking at potential sites including one in the US state of Maryland.

Mr Parkinson, a Heriot-Watt University microbiology graduate, is in talks with investors about raising the necessary 12 million in venture capital to help build the facility. The project would see up to 50 scientists and support staff employed in Roslin at the beginning with the aim of growing to a 200-strong workforce.

The anti-ageing pill, known as 1152, which is expected to be made available over the counter, is designed to slow the deterioration of the body’s organs by boosting the level of anti-oxidants. The pill contains the protein ependymin, which stimulates the body into making its own supply of anti-oxidants - generally found in fruit, vegetables and tea and which help boost the immune system.

By repairing the body’s natural defences and stimulating disease-fighting enzymes, the pharmaceutical giant CereMedix hopes the pill will boost average life expectancy from 75 to 120 years.

The company claims the pill has the equivalent effect of eating 30lbs of fruit and vegetables every day.

Today, Mr Parkinson, who in the early 90s worked at PPL Therapeutics, the company behind Dolly the Sheep, said he was confident Midlothian could be the home for the centre.

He said: "I am Scottish, which has led me in this direction. It would be really great to bring it to Scotland. There is a labour pool and skill base here. But the incentives and the business logistics have got to be there. We are in the closing stages of talks with investors.

"Scottish Enterprise are very interested in what we are doing, and want to get the product. They have generally been very receptive.

"Scotland has positioned itself as a leader in the bio-tech industry, but it must pedal faster to attract world-class companies.

"It is tough going up against [competition from] Ireland. But Roslin could produce at least a tonne of the active ingredient. It would be a perfect transatlantic operation."

Mr Parkinson said the anti-ageing pill would help the human body boost its own protection system.

He said: "As we grow older, free radicals in our environment attack our self-repair systems and they stop performing as well as they did when we were young. We believe our product will restore these functions."

The company has also produced two prescription drugs to help the body fight chronic obstruction pulmonary disease and another to help the patient’s brain and heart deal with the trauma of surgery.

Pre-clinical trials on one of the lung disease drug are expected to start at Edinburgh University next month.