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Australian biotech hopes vitamin extract can fight cancer

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An Australian biotechnology entrepreneur has developed a new way to distribute powerful chemicals found in vitamin E, which could be used as a treatment for pancreatic cancer and fatty liver disease.

The chemicals, known as tocotrienols (T3), can act as an anti-inflammatory, as well as prevent scarring and stop fat build-up.

T3s produced excellent results in their first tests on rats, but were found to be somewhat less effective in human trials – until Dr Glenn Tong realized that the rats were given a better dose because they chewed the medicine before swallowing it.

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“It’s a very direct way of giving your medicine – it goes straight into your bloodstream without going through your gut and liver first,” he told AAP.

“The potential is enormous.”

Dr Tong decided to try the same in humans, developing a way to deliver T3s under the tongue.

His company, Azure Health Technology, has now obtained patents for the delivery technology in major markets including the US, EU, Japan and China.

It is also about to embark on phase two clinical trials of T3 administered under the tongue to patients with fatty liver disease and pancreatic cancer.

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“No one else has ever done this before with the T3s,” said Dr Tong.

There is no cure for fatty liver disease, while currently approved treatments for pancreatic cancer do not provide much improvement in the patient’s quality of life or length of life.

Results are expected within two years, while the US Food and Drug Administration has indicated it would be willing to speed up its approval of T3 drugs for these diseases.

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Dr Tong says T3 can fight cancer cells by triggering cell cycle death and preventing metastasis that can see cancer spread throughout the body.

The company has raised $ 2.25 million to partially fund the two trials via an IPO and plans to list on ASX later this month.

Dr Tong says that if all goes according to plan, the drugs could be on the market in three to four years.


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