Ric Scalzo Institute of Botanical Research and Kelai Pharmaceutical Announce Research Partnership

Kava Research Begins at Biosafety Level 2 and Analytical Plant Chemistry Labs


May 26th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. – Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (Sonoran) Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research  is a 4,285 square-foot Biosafety Level 2 Lab (BSL-2) Viral Culture, Cell Culture, and Molecular Bioassay lab coupled with a compound isolation laboratory and compound identification and quantification facility located on the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine campus in Tempe, Arizona.  The Institute’s team of researchers is led by Molecular Biologist, Jeffrey Langland, who is the Chair of the Research Department at Sonoran, and who also holds an appointment at Arizona State University.

The Institute began working in collaboration with Kelai Pharmaceutical (“Kelai”) in April on a project investigating the in vitro activity of Kava (Piper methysticum G. Forst), including the toxicity of various fractions of the extract, traditional water extractions, and ethanol extracts for cellular toxicity and interactions with the CYP450A enzyme system for hepatoxicity and exploring various mechanisms of action for anxiolytic properties.

Kelai Pharmaceutical specializes in the development of advanced drug delivery (ADD) technologies that utilize natural compounds to create safer, more effective, and innovative therapies for addiction, mental health disorders, and related conditions

“We are particularly excited about starting the discovery partnership with the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research that builds on a rich traditional use of Kava.  We see this as the platform for accelerating our forward-looking research and discoveries around Kava,” said Jacqueline Jacques, ND, Chief Executive Officer, Kelai Pharmaceutical.  “Kelai will be the first company in the world to have this depth and knowledge regarding the bioactivity of kavalactones.  We intend to validate existing theories about kava and discover new therapeutic targets.”

“It has already been an exciting few months of discoveries since research began at the Institute,” said Dr. Langland.  “It is a privilege to work here and have the resources and support to continue this important work to further the use of evidence-based botanical medicine that uses responsible sourcing worldwide.”

When considering botanical material for research, the team analyzes the plant’s background, supply chain, ethnobotanical history, and relevant clinical data.  Because a therapeutic botanical made for mass distribution must have a sustainable supply chain for a responsible product to be developed, sourcing considerations are incorporated with ethical guidelines.  The partnership between the two companies will accelerate research and development of botanical medicines.


About Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences

Sonoran is a school of medicine and health sciences grounded in naturopathic principles.  Its vision is a world that embraces the healing power of nature.  For more information on the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research, visit sonoran.edu/research.


About Kelai Pharmaceutical

Kelai Pharmaceutical is a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company that brings together powerful natural molecules with patented Advanced Drug Delivery technology to create safe and effective new treatments for addiction and mental health disorders. As a strategic joint venture created by Thorne HealthTech and Mycrodose Therapeutics, Kelai leverages the resources, intellectual property, and human capital of both companies to focus on lean drug development and innovation geared toward safe and effective new treatments for mental health and addiction.