JAN. 17, 2006 | A skin cream developed by a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researcher is now being marketed by Balm Innovations LLC, a UAMS BioVentures startup company.
Called Dr. Teatrie’s Omnibalm™, the cream is an innovation by Bill Gurley, Ph.D., director of the UAMS Clinical Pharmacokinetics Research Laboratory and professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the UAMS College of Pharmacy.
Omnibalm is being sold exclusively at 11 USA Drug stores in central Arkansas and through the Internet at Omnibalm.com.
Balm Innovations, formed by Lydia Carson of Sherwood, is one of 17 UAMS BioVentures startups licensed to take UAMS’ inventions from the laboratory to the marketplace. Carson is the company’s president and chief executive officer.
Gurley’s inspiration for the cream came from his severe sunburn almost 20 years ago. His research led him to tea tree oil, which comes from Australia’s Melaleuca tree and has a long history as an effective treatment for many skin maladies.
“If you dig through the medical literature, tea tree oil has a lot of unique medicinal properties,” Gurley said. “It has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. And it also acts as a skin permeation enhancer, which allows skin cells to absorb it a lot quicker.”
After several years of experimenting, he was able to deliver a highly concentrated level of the oil in a nongreasy cream. Gurley has made batch after batch for a growing list of friends and colleagues who said the cream had became a staple of their medicine cabinets.
Carson learned of the cream while enrolled in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Executive M.B.A. program. Her own experience with the cream and the testimonials of others convinced her that it was a good business opportunity.
“We gave it to our friends and it worked on everybody; everybody loved it,” Carson said. “Even the skeptical people loved it. That’s when we realized it had to be out there in stores.”
As a UAMS BioVentures startup company, Balm Innovations has a license to market the cream. Such licensing agreements require a percentage of profits to go back to UAMS and the inventor.
In his 16 years at UAMS, Gurley has established himself as the nation’s foremost expert on the dangers of ephedra; his research, court testimony and national media exposure helped lead to the 2004 FDA ban on ephedra-based supplements.