Under the contract, Natural Pharmatech will provide pre-clinical pharmacology and toxicology testing services for Kobayashi's botanical drug development program, at a more competetive cost than companies in Japan, said the firm.
The deal stems from Natural Pharmatech's recent efforts to expand its services into other countries. Initial efforts have so far focused on China's neighbouring regions, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan.
However, the company has its sights set firmly on cracking the US market and the firm, set up by US company, Global Pharmatech for this very purpose, already has its foot firmly in the door.
In addition to R&D services, the company plans to develop its own botanical drugs to distribute throughout the US, and will test the waters later this year with the launch of its dietary supplements.
A botanical drug differs from a chemical-based drug in that its active ingredient is extracted from a herb, rather than chemically formulated.
"China has 5,000 years of clinical experience with herbs that are known to cure diseases. These herbs are now being put into pills to be made more acceptable to consumers in today's drug market," Zhuojun Li, Investor Relations, Global Pharmatech, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
Botanical drugs are big business in china, and other Asian countries, with one quarter of all drug sales in China coming from this market segment.
However, the market is only just beginning to take off in the US after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently passed a guidance on the development of such drugs.
"Botanical drugs have enormous potential in today's drug market. Because they are natural, they have many advantages, including fewer side-effects," said Li.
This means that they can be particularly useful in treating chronic illnesses, a major unmet need in many disease areas in the Western pharma market.