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Firm gets green light to develop rainforest-based pharmaceuticals

Monday, April 9, 2007

ABC ON-line

A north Queensland company hopes to develop treatments for cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease after being granted permission to collect rainforest material under new biodiversity laws.

The chief executive officer of EcoBiotics, Dr Victoria Gordon, says the agreement is an Australian first and will allow the company to replicate natural rainforest resources for medicinal purposes by developing pharmaceutical products from natural resources in rainforests.

She says the company is conducting pre-clinical trials on new drugs, but the focus of the research is on treatment for solid cancerous tumours.

"Our focus area at the moment is anti-cancer, particularly solid tumour, anti-inflammatory for applications in things like rheumatoid arthritis, antibiotics, we have a number of new drugs in development at the moment," she said.

Dr Gordon says the company will harvest plants and fungi in a search for new chemicals that can be developed into drugs used to treat solid tumours and central nervous system illnesses.

"EcoBiotics is concentrating in the big problem areas with things like prostate cancer, breast cancer, the multiple resistant bacteria," she said.

"We're looking for some really new types of antibiotics and moving into the central nervous system problems like Alzheimer's."

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