Scientific Research

Compton has discovered that an extract derived from a little researched type of frankincense (i.e. Boswellia frereana) has potent anti-inflammatory properties: B. frereana is native to Somaliland which is in northern Somalia. Unlike other members of the Boswellia family (whose boswellic acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties), there are no boswellic acids present in B. frereana. Compton filed a patent application to protect the use of B. frereana in the treatment of a wide range of inflammation related diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease ("IBD"). The patent application proceeded to grant in various forms in Europe, US and China.

Compton has carried out considerable preclinical research on B. frereana including toxicity and efficacy studies.

Compton now wishes to take the B. frereana extract forward to Phase 1 human clinical trials, i.e. to test whether the extract is toxic to humans. No toxicity problem was identified in in vivo trials. Furthermore, the extract has long been taken orally as chewing gum in the Middle East. Assuming successful completion of Phase 1 clinical trials, Compton intends to outlicense the drug for the treatment of IBD, so that the outlicensee can take the drug through the more costly Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials.

IBD is a major health problem, particularly in Europe. The global IBD treatment market already exceeds $10bn and is set to reach nearly $15bn by 2025. The annual direct healthcare costs of treating IBD in Europe come to approximately €5bn. In terms of the socio-economic burden, IBD patients have a higher percentage of unemployment (10%), sick leave (3 to 6 weeks per annum), as well as leaving work through earlier retirement and disability (two fold increase), when compared with unaffected individuals. There is currently no drug which permanently cures IBD. Instead, drugs are prescribed to achieve remission, but patients relapse often moving on to biologic drugs which can have severe side effects, with surgery frequently the eventual outcome. Furthermore, the drug regimen of existing treatments can be onerous, leading to high rates of non-compliance by patients.

The most pernicious trend with IBD is that the age of onset is getting earlier. It is increasingly becoming a young person’s disease, which they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Given the chronic nature of the disease and the increases in both incidence and prevalence of IBD among the population, there is a clear unmet clinical need for a new therapy. Compared with current alternatives, Compton’s botanical drug, a natural product, will hopefully be more effective (thus delaying progress to more serious medication and surgery), with fewer side effects and a much easier drug regimen.

The drug’s socio-economic benefits in first world countries, particularly in Europe, would be significant for patients, healthcare providers and society as a whole. There will also be economic benefits in Somaliland (where B. frereana is harvested), one of the poorest parts of the world. Assuming the drug comes to market, Compton will commit to investing in the region as well as supporting local charities. Compton will also reinvest part of its royalty share of the drug sales in preclinical research into the use of the drug to treat other inflammation related diseases covered in Compton’s patents.


Compton Group’s interest in research projects is primarily financial; we look to out-license the intellectual property at an early stage, typically after a patent application has been filed. Depending on the views of any joint venture partner, the terms of the licence will usually involve a nominal upfront fee with no milestone payments in return for a royalty share of the income when the product is eventually brought to the market. This gives the licensee the satisfaction of knowing that there will be no pay out to us unless and until the project is generating revenue. For our part, we will expect the licensee to use reasonable endeavours to push forward, at its own cost, with the commercialisation of the IP.

The next step

Should you have any technical enquiries please contact our research Director Dr Ahmed Ali by email

Compton Developments Ltd has benefited from financial support from the Welsh Government’s SMARTCymru programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. (Project Tile) Explanation of the project.

Pre-clinical testing of a botanical anti-inflammatory drug 

An Innovation voucher grant has been received to enable us to ascertain whether we are able to achieve this critical aspect of drug development as described below:

Compton Development Limited have recently discovered a potent anti-inflammatory drug based on Boswellia frereana (B. frereana) also referred to as Somali frankincense that has been shown to significantly reduce inflammation in laboratory models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). B. frereana reduces many of the clinical symptoms associated with IBD such as; body weight loss, inflammation of the stomach lining and incidences of diarrhoea. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a combination of two diseases; ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD). In UC, inflammation only effects the colon and rectum region (large intestine) whilst in CD, inflammation can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus.

IBD effects millions of people globally and there is no cure to date.  Current drugs only manage the symptoms of the disease, some of which have serious unwanted side effects. There is, therefore, a clear medical unmet need to develop new therapies which can target the underlying inflammatory process.

  1. frereana has the potential to improve on current standards of care through a better balance of efficacy and safety for the majority of IBD patients. The therapeutic role for B. frereana lies in both induction and prolongation of remission in IBD patients. The latter is important as repeated episodes of IBD often end in surgical intervention.

Compton Developments Limited aims to collaborate with a contract research organisation in order to:

  1. i) Conduct Pharmacokinetic (PK) studies to determine the absorption profile of the drug, ascertaining the drugs half-life, amount of drug absorbed and time for drug to be cleared from the body,
  2. ii) Conduct Pharmacodynamic (PD) studies to elucidate the drugs mode of action by monitoring its effect on the common biomarkers of inflammation.
  3. iii)          Conduct Pharmacology studies to establish the lowest dose in which the drug can be prescribed whilst retaining its potent efficacy.

Preclinical trial testing is an essential requirement in drug development. It is used for establishing the lowest pharmacological drug dose that can be administered whilst retaining its efficacy and gives vital information on how the drug behaves in the body. Preclinical testing is one of the most important stages in Pharma drug development and is the critical milestone for monitoring the progression of this potential IBD drug. 

Compton Developments Ltd has benefited from financial support from the Welsh Government’s SMARTCymru programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. (Project Tile) Explanation of the project.

Contact us
Dr Ahmed Ali