Lowe’s cancer research gets significant boost

Thursday, October 29, 2015

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JAMAICAN scientist Dr Henry Lowe and his research team have made another significant step in their efforts to successfully combat cancer under an exclusive licensing rights agreement with University of Maryland (UM) Ventures.


The university and Dr Lowe's Baltimore-based firm Educational and Scientific LLC (ESL) made the announcement yesterday in a news release, stating that the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) granted ESL exclusive licensing rights to its interest in the commercial development of a molecule whose anticancer properties were jointly discovered by ESL and UMB.


Dr Lowe's Jamaica-based Bio-Tech R&D Institute collaborated on the discovery, which is being regarded in the scientific community as significant.


"The molecule has consistently demonstrated its potential for the treatment of a variety of cancers, particularly lung, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, pancreatic, and prostate cancer," the news release said.


Yesterday, the Jamaica Observer was told that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been evaluating the major drug molecule for efficacy and toxicity.


Educational and Scientific LLC is a commercial venture established by Dr Lowe to conduct further research and development of medicinal plant isolates for the development of new pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products.


UM Ventures is an initiative to channel the technical resources and research expertise of the University of Maryland by engaging partners in industry and social ventures to expand real world impact.


The entity explained that by encouraging students and faculty, and by providing expert advice and business services, more discoveries will reach the market.


It also said that by engaging directly with external partners, it will bring new investment, expanded markets and more start-up ventures.


Dr Lowe, who has spent nearly 50 years extensively studying the potential for plant-based compounds to treat a range of chronic diseases, has won international recognition for his work with the Jamaican Ball Moss (Tillandsia recurvata).


Properties from the plant have shown promise as potential treatment for cancers and as a neuroprotective agent, for diseases such as Parkinson's.


His team includes Dr Joseph Bryant, DVM, associate professor of pathology and director, Animal Models Division at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Institute of Human Virology (IHV); Dr Ngeh Toyang, whose background is in the study of the medicinal potential of plant isolates; as well as Dr Charah Watson, head of Bio-Tech R&D Institute.


"It is often stated that it takes 10 to 12 years to take a drug from basic science to commercialisation. My team and I have now completed 10 years of work on this Ball Moss project and we are satisfied that we are well on our way to commercialisation," the news release quoted Dr Lowe.


"I am particularly pleased to say with confidence that we now have a drug with the potential not only to save lives, but also to create wealth for all involved," he added. "I am grateful for the assistance given to us by the University of Maryland."


Dr Toyang was reported as saying: "This is a very significant milestone achievement for Jamaican science as cancer remains one of the most dreadful diseases, and to have a potential cure that can benefit many cancer patients brings a lot of hope."


Philip Robilotto, chief commercialisation officer with UM Ventures, said: "This unique discovery exemplifies some of the broadly innovative research currently ongoing at UMB. This agreement will allow ESL to move forward with developing a treatment that could positively impact the lives of the many individuals living with cancer."


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