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Lowe takes another big step in cancer research

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Dr Henry Lowe, the Jamaican scientist who has gained international recognition for his anti-cancer research, has established a commercial venture in the United States where his team of researchers will conduct further work on Jamaican indigenous plants to develop new pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products.

The company, called Education and Scientific, LLC, is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

It will work with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and its Ventures programme, which helps the institution's faculty and students bring scientific discoveries to market by providing consulting and business services.

The development was announced by the University of Maryland School of Medicine last Thursday on its website in a news release that also highlighted the ongoing anti-cancer research being carried out by Dr Lowe and his research partner, Dr Joseph Bryant, using the Jamaican Ball Moss.

"This is very important to the Ball Moss research as well as the lesson that science is not only about research, but how research and innovation can lead to wealth creation," Dr Lowe said in an e-mailed response to the Jamaica Observer.

"This could lead to billions of dollars in revenue. The stage has been set for this through patent ownership and the strong backing of the university for commercialisation," he added.

In May this year, Lowe and his research team were granted a fourth patent by the United States Patent Office.

"The patent is based on a method of treating prostate cancer using compounds from the crude extract of the indigenous Jamaican plant, Ball Moss, commonly known as Old Man's Beard," a news release from Dr Lowe's Bio-Tech R&D Institute said at the time.

The patent number, 9040100, is titled 'Methods for Inhibiting Prostate Cancer by Kinases & Angiogenesis Inhibitory Mechanisms of Ball Moss Extract'.

The University of Maryland School of Medicine's Institute of Human Virology (IHV), where Dr Bryant is based, has been at the forefront of research into the treatment and prevention of diseases such as chronic viral infections and cancers since it was formed in 1996.

This research, in conjunction with the Bio-Tech R&D Institute at the University of the West Indies, Mona, is focused specifically on the role that the Jamaican plants may play in treating cancers, as well as inflammation, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

The Bio-Tech R&D Institute has developed more than 20 products from Jamaica's medicinal plants, which are marketed internationally.

In addition to Dr Bryant, who is an associate professor of pathology and director of the University of Maryland's Animal Models Division, the research team at IHV includes Ngeh J Toyang, PhD, research associate, whose background is in studying the medicinal potentials of the isolates of medicinal plants. Dr Toyang holds a PhD in pharmacognosy from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

"Over the past 10 years, working with the IHV team, we have demonstrated significant anti-cancer activities of the plant isolates," the University of Maryland news release quoted Dr Lowe. "Now, with the acceptance of the National Cancer Institute, to further evaluate two of the bioactive molecules isolated from the Ball Moss and with the strong preclinical studies which have been done, we are confident that we developed a product that can be added to the fight against cancer."

Dr E Albert Reece, vice-president, Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, described the collaboration between Dr Lowe and his team at IHV as "another example of the IHV's fearlessness in exploring the most cutting-edge therapies".

Added Dr Reece: "Treating cancer has been one of the greatest challenges of modern medicine, and this type of out-of-the-box approach could be a valuable strategy in cancer research."