Archived News | Return to News Center

October 12, 2009

Australian-based company head receives update on breast cancer research at ULM

Dr. Paul Sylvester had already dedicated much of his life to researching the anticancer effects of tocotrienols, commonly known as vitamin E, when Australian businessman Alan Reid approached him a couple years ago about a possible partnership.

Reid is chairman of the board for Beta Pharmaceutical Ltd., an Australian-based company focused on the research and development of effective treatments for breast cancers. Reid suggested collaboration with Sylvester and the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Pharmacy to aggressively pursue and build on Sylvester’s prior research.

It is a collaboration that could result in sustainable treatment, and even the prevention of, one of the most common forms of cancer for American women. Reid’s visit to ULM on Monday seemed particularly timely given that October marks the 25th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Reid’s company, in a joint endeavor with its partner, First Tech International Ltd., has provided the project so far with funding through December 2010, bringing the total amount to $1,017,000 since the project’s inception.

“This is a great accomplishment,” said Interim Dean Greg Leader. “And it is very typical of the type of research that goes on within this college. I can’t express how excited I am about our collaboration to provide further research and patient care.”

The funding helps four laboratories research how tocotrienols can attack cancer cells in early stages without harming healthy cells. Tocotrienols derived from palm oil could eventually be available as an oral supplement, said Sylvester. A drug that could be injected to kill existing tumors is also on the horizon.

In addition, project scientists are also working on a synthetic product to treat early-stage breast cancer; in combination with chemotherapy, it could reverse progression of the disease. The research is expected to eventually move toward clinical trials in humans.

For Sylvester, the project represents a lifetime of work devoted to eradicating one of the greatest threats to women.

“Our goal is drug discovery and the commercialization of anti-cancer products that may be used to treat breast cancer in women,” said Sylvester. “That’s the beauty of pairing up with First Tech. A patent, we think, is possible within one and a half years.”

“To date the results have been outstanding,” said Reid. “I’m very hopeful about the future of the Breast Cancer and Health Project.”

The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 193,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosis among women in the United States this year, and an estimated 40,170 women are expected to die from the disease in 2009 alone.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.