Bone Grower
    Category: Health is Wealth By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 1224 Date : Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 19:53:14

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Gama-CHA doesn’t look like much. It is a small white pellet about 6 mm in diameter and 10 mm in length. Yet this little pellet can help regenerate teeth and other bone tissue. It is the product of 15 years of effort by Ika Dewi Ana, 47, the director of the center for academic innovation and policy at Gadjah Mada University (UGM). To be sure, similar products can be imported but Gama-CHA is made in Indonesia and costs a fraction of the international products. Imported products cost anywhere from Rp 850,000 to Rp 2.5 million per box, while Gama-CHA is sold for just Rp 350,000.

    It is called Gama-CHA after the university’s name Gadjah Mada (Gama), while “cha” refers to carbonated hydroxyl apatite, a material similar to bone calls that is used in the regenerative process. Launched a year ago, Gama-CHA is currently produced by PT Swayasa Prakarsa, a business subsidiary of UGM. The firm regularly produces about 5,000 boxes a month or 60,000 boxes a year. Thus, at Rp 350,000 a box, Gama-CHA has sales worth about Rp 21 billion.

    Ika says Gama-CHA is distributed by two big Indonesian pharmaceutical companies: PT Kimia Farma and PT Cobra Dental Indonesia. The product has also been added to the medicine e-catalog of the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan). “My dream is Gama-CHA could be sold cheaply so that it can be used by more patients,” says Ika. In the past, doctors would take a bone graft from a patient to help a fractured bone. But this procedure had drawbacks. “Patients ended up with having two wounds,” says Ika.

    Grafting, she adds, also brings a high risk of virus transmission, such as HIV. Since 1970, researchers have developed a formula of hydroxyl apatite (calcium, phosphate and hydroxyl), but after six months of surgery, the hydroxyl which is planted inside often cannot replace the lost bone. “Our bones are actually carbonate apatite, not hydroxyl apatite as believed by many medical experts over the years. Carbonate apatite turned out to be absorbed by the body and stimulates the growth of new bone cells,” says Ika.

    Gama-CHA caught the attention of Dahlan Iskan, when he was the minister of state-owned enterprises. He suggested Ika register her invention and conduct clinical trials of it with the Ministry of Health in 2012. Dahlan has also opened the opportunity for Gama-CHA to be sold in Kimia Farma drugstores, since it is one of the SOEs under the ministry.

    In August 2014, Gama-CHA was officially launched by PT Swayasa Prakarsa. UGM got a loan of Rp 67 billion for producing 10 different pharmaceutical products, including the Gama-CHA. “It has been used by thousands of patients,” says Ika. The product is not just for Indonesia, as Kimia Farma plans to export Gama-CHA to Africa, the Mideast and the rest of Asia.

    Aside from Gama-CHA, Ika has actually patented three other products. Her first patent was for carbonate apatite block from gypsum, similar to a bone substitute. “It still has to be developed. The needs of bone replacement are varied: for orthopedic, injection or composite,” says Ika. Her third and fourth patents are related to drug delivery. “It’s a carbonate apatite for delivery system,” she says. She is now gradually developing all of these into marketable products.