Meditech gets foreign backing for cancer test

LISTED biotechnology company Meditech has secured funding from Danish-based biotechnology company Novozymes to pursue phase two clinical trials of its anti-cancer treatment, HyCAMP.

Novozymes will also collaborate with Meditech to develop formulations for HyCAMP and other products to be agreed at a later date.

HyCAMP is used in the treatment of colo-rectal cancer and enables the delivery of anti-cancer drugs directly to the cancerous cells while protecting non-cancerous cells.

This means cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can be used for longer periods of time without the debilitating side effects normally experienced.

While Meditech is based in Melbourne, the company originated in Perth and half of its board members are from Western Australia.

Board member John Papadimitriou, who also works for the University of Western Australia’s pathology department, said the company had concentrated on colo-rectal cancer because it was the most commonly occurring form of the disease.

“The therapy we’ve devised will be used as the frontline therapy for colo-rectal cancer,” Dr Papadimitriou said.

He described HyCAMP as the delivery system for anti-cancer drugs.

“It provides better targeting of the anti-cancer drugs and helps to reduce their toxicity,” Dr Papadimitriou said.

“Because of that it means you can extend the treatment time.”

The treatment revolves around the use of hyaluronic acid.

Dr Papadimitriou said hyaluronic acid was a big molecule with “a lot of twists and turns”.

“In between these twists you can package water and chemotherapy,” he said.

Meditech started its life in Perth as Hyal Pharmaceuticals.

It was linked to the Lions Eye Institute because institute director Professor Ian Constable thought there could be some tie-ins between Hyal’s research and the treatment of eye diseases. Hyaluronic acid is commonly found in the eyes.

Indeed, the Canadian arm of Hyal developed a skin cancer treatment.

Dr Papadimitriou said there had been some early stage trials using HyCAMP in breast cancer and other types of cancers.

However, he said there was not enough funding available to move those early trials into phase two clinical trials.

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