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January 29, 2009

Company pledges nearly $400,000 in additional funding for ULM Cancer Project

An Australian-based pharmaceutical company recently awarded additional funds for a University of Louisiana at Monroe project that seeks to prevent breast cancer in at-risk women.

The company, Beta Pharmaceutical Ltd., in a joint endeavor with First Tech International Ltd., recently announced the award of an additional $399,000 to ULM’s Cancer Research and Health Project, headed by Professor Paul Sylvester, Ph.D.

The award extends the project’s funding period through December 2010, and brings the total amount funded to $1,017,000, since the project’s inception.

Sylvester, a world-renowned expert in the anticancer effects of tocotrienols, said he was extremely pleased with the announcement of additional funding, noting that it will enable his team to “take the project to the next level.”

The project is a collaborative effort between four laboratories, whose work is expected to eventually move toward clinical trials in humans.

“We are very excited about our involvement in the Breast Cancer and Health Project,” said Chairman of the Board Alan Reid, whose companies are financing the project.

“We are looking forward to continuing to fund this important research work to ultimately provide an effective treatment for breast cancers that will not only improve women’s quality of life globally, but generate value for the University and our shareholders.”

Reid expressed confidence that the market demand will be significant for the type of product being developed at ULM.

Sylvester has spent decades studying how the tocotrienols – commonly known as vitamin E – can attack cancer cells in early stages without harming healthy cells. Tocotrienols derived from palm oil could be available as a supplement within three years, he said.

Another project goal would be to develop an intravenous, high-dose version to aggressively treat breast cancer in women who already have it, according to Sylvester. In addition, project scientists are also working on a synthetic product to treat early-stage breast cancer, which in combination with chemotherapy, could reverse progression of the disease.

In addition to heading the project, Sylvester holds the Pfizer Inc.-B.J. Robinson Endowed Professor of Pharmacy, and is the Director of Graduate Studies and Research Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy.

Breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent malignancy in women; just over 2 million women in the U.S. have been treated for the disease.

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