THE quest to develop novel pain-killing drugs from a native Australian plant, traditionally used by Aboriginal people, is a step closer and Gympie resident Paul Marshall is playing a leading part.
In what could be an Australian first, a new partnership has been forged between Queensland's Griffith University, JJ Lab Pty Ltd and Avexis Pty Ltd.
Griffith researchers and the Western Australian Kimberley region's Nygkina and Mangala Nations' peoples have worked together to identify active drug-like compounds from traditional Aboriginal medicine.
The University and the Aboriginal community, through its company JJLab, this week signed a license agreement with biotech start-up venture Avexis to further develop pain-killing drugs based on research that shows the "Marjarla" plant contains a novel class of analgesic compounds.
Griffith's Eskitis Institute director Professor Ron Quinn said the plant showed considerable promise for development as a natural remedy and a suite of new pharmaceutical medicines.
"I first learned of the plant's analgesic potential after hearing about and then meeting an Aboriginal man in the Kimberley region whose finger had been bitten off by a crocodile and he chewed the bark and put it on his wound," he said.
"It was unclear whether the benefit came from chewing the plant or using it as a poultice on the wound.
"Our research has since isolated a number of compounds from the plant's bark and tested them for analgesic properties. Several compounds have shown encouraging signs in pre-clinical testing."
Griffith University and the Jarlmadangah Aboriginal Community have taken out patent applications for the compounds. …