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Pharma float links Perth, US and China

He's worked as a lawyer, played Australian rules football at the highest level, and has spent the past 20 years as a trade commissioner and private consultant helping Western companies do business in China.

Now, Beijing-based Alan Reid faces his next challenge, heading up the public listing of Beta Pharmaceutical Ltd, a company that hopes to commercialise a naturally derived breast cancer treatment using a substance found in palm oil.

The ASX listing is the culmination of more than two years' research into potential commercial applications for the oil, which has bought together the former Perth-based Mr Reid with a Louisiana-based researcher and Hong Kong-based joint venture partner.

While originally setting out to investigate the viability of using palm oil for biodiesel in China, Mr Reid saw the opportunity of using tocotrienol, a powerful anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering substance found in palm oil, in pharmaceuticals.

He then teamed up with Paul Sylvester of the University of Louisiana, who had been studying the relationship between fats and tumours for almost 20 years.

"It was pretty obvious having spoken to Paul that there was a great opportunity to pursue the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical sectors," Mr Reid said.

Beta formed a joint venture with Hong Kong-based First Tech International to co-fund the research program and supply adequate volumes of palm oil.

Now almost one-third of the way through a three-year research program, the company hopes to release its first product - a preventative supplement for breast cancer - within two to three years.

That product will be able to be taken orally, like a daily vitamin pill, and will be available to the general public.

The company will then work towards its patented breast cancer treatment product.

"We want to back that natural product with clinical trials, we don't want to just put it into the market as another supplement," Mr Reid said.

"If the research is successful, and we think it will be, if that goes well we want to put it into the market as a chemo-preventative product backed by clinical trials and relevant approvals."

Earlier this month, Beta released its prospectus to raise $5 million through a placement of 20 million shares at 25 cents each, with a view to listing on the ASX on October 14.

The company's registered office will be in West Perth.

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