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College puts bee in business with its 'miracle' honey cure

AN IRISH college has discovered there's money in honey.

Sligo Institute of Technology has just signed a licensing agreement with a leading American company following research it conducted into manuka honey -- believed to have unique healing powers.

The institute research team isolated the curative properties of the honey and showed how they could be produced synthetically. Now HemCon plans to use the discovery for wound care, control of hospital-acquired infections and oral hygiene applications. It's also looking at other uses such as teeth whitening.

The research deal is worth at least $1m a year in royalties over the next 12 years to the Sligo Institute. Some of this will be ploughed back into further research and development at the institute.

The manuka discovery was made by a three-member research at the institute -- Drs James Brennan, John Barrett and Tom Patton.

"During their research into the curative properties of manuka honey they almost by accident discovered a particular synthetic way to produce the same effect and they were able to isolate this" said Niall McEvoy, innovation manager at the Institute.

HemCon, based in Portland, Oregon, aims to commercialise the product. Mr McEvoy said it was examining the possibility of the base product being manufactured in Sligo.