Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Research Firm Touts Newfoundland and Labrador Seaweed as Cancer Inhibitor

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Research Firm Touts Newfoundland and Labrador Seaweed as Cancer Inhibitor

Article excerpt

Firm touts N.L. seaweed as cancer inhibitor

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A cancer researcher says he's cautiously optimistic about an East Coast ocean technology company's apparent discovery of properties in seaweed off Newfoundland and Labrador that inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, but warns the company still faces many hurdles.

Oceans Ltd. announced Wednesday it has been studying the seaweed's potential commercialization in pharmaceutical products for seven years, and has sampled about 70 seaweed species in Newfoundland and Labrador's coastal waters.

It said studies that used an extract from the seaweed on mice have "conclusively" demonstrated effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells.

Dr. David Hoskin, a professor of pathology at Dalhousie University who was not involved with the company or its research, said the product appears promising, but added there have been many natural products that have inhibited growth of human cancer in mice.

"To the best of my knowledge, none of them have made it to the clinic," said Hoskin, who researches natural products for treatment of breast cancer.

"I tell my students, 'I guarantee if you bring me a mouse with cancer, I can cure it.' It's pretty easy to cure cancer in a mouse. In a human, that's a whole new ball game. That's where a lot of the disappointments in the development of new cancer treatments have arisen from."

Oceans Ltd. president and CEO Judith Bobbitt said Wednesday its unique molecule has already undergone laboratory and animal testing at the National Research Council Canada, in accordance with Ottawa's drug protocol.

She said there are patents pending, and the company is now looking to partner with pharmaceutical companies to fund further research.

"This is significant," said Bobbitt in an interview. "It's a novel molecule we found in a natural environment that nobody knew existed. …

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