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U Maryland-Baltimore inks license for anti-cancer molecule derived from Jamaican plant

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 19th, 2018

University of Maryland (UM) Ventures and Educational and Scientific LLC (ESL) have struck a deal granting ESL exclusive licensing rights to a molecule with anti-cancer properties that was jointly  discovered by ESL and UM-Baltimore. The molecule — derived from a Jamaican plant — has consistently demonstrated its potential in the treatment of a variety of cancers, particularly lung, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Henry Lowe, PhD, DSc, adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), is the founder of ESL. Dr. Lowe collaborated on the discovery with Joseph Bryant, DVM, associate professor of pathology and director of the Animal Models Division at the UMSOM Institute of Human Virology.

The discovery and related projects are part of an ongoing effort to examine Jamaica’s medicinal plants for potential therapeutic purposes. To date, the Jamaican plant Tillandsia recurvata (more commonly known as “Ball Moss”) has shown promise as a potential treatment for cancers and as a neuroprotective agent for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Lowe established Baltimore-based ESL to conduct further research and commercialize bioactive plant compounds, with a goal of developing new pharmaceutical and “nutraceutical” products. ESL will work in collaboration with the Bio-Tech R&D Institute in Jamaica, which Lowe also founded and where he serves as executive chairman.

Philip J. Robilotto, DO, MBA, Chief Commercialization Officer with UM Ventures, said the 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.”

Lowe is renowned for his research in the field of “ethno-medicinal” chemistry, molecular pharmacology and biochemistry. Born in Jamaica, he has spent nearly 50 years studying the potential for plant-based compounds to treat a range of chronic diseases.

“It is often stated that it takes 10 to 12 years to take a drug from basic science to commercialization. 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 commercialization. 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,” Lowe says.

Source: BioSpace

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