Drug candidate 'could boost lycopene effect in foods'

By Wailang Chu and Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cancer cells, Cancer

A pharmaceutical company has suggested that the addition of a
phosphorylated variant of gamma-tocopherol to lycopene-rich foods
like tomato sauce might boost the carotenoid's anti-cancer

Australia's Phosphagenics developed GTP-0805 using its phosphorylation technology base to enhance the bioavailability of drugs and improve absorption through the gastrointestinal tract or skin.

Not only have laboratory tests found that the compound induced a greater than 90 per cent reduction in breast and prostate cancer cells, but the company says it also demonstrated a synergistic anti-cancer affect on prostate cancer cells when combined with the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene.

"Commercially, GTP-0805 may offer a number of product differentiation opportunities for multinational and functional food producers,"​ said the company.

The compound, which claims to destroy diseased cells while not affecting normal ones by primarily acting as a signalling molecule and modulator of cancer pathways, is presently a drug candidate. Phosphagenics has announced the start of animal studies on the compound - an early stage along the road towards regulatory approval.

For GTP-0805 to be used as a food ingredient in Europe it would need to be granted novel food status. In the US, it would need GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.

The proposed animal studies will assess the anti-cancer properties of GTP-0805 both alone and in combination with lycopene or with an anti-cancer drug, it being common practice to use combination therapy in the treatment of cancer.

Phosphagenics' earlier data, carried out by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, suggested that GTP-0805 could enhance the absorption and intracellular uptake of cancer drugs, potentially minimising both the doses required and the adverse effects of cytotoxic drug therapies.

The potential market for GTP-0805 as a cancer therapy product is believed to be significant with global sales of current breast cancer treatments estimated to be greater than $2 billion (€1.6 billion) per annum. No projects have been made for its potential in the functional foods arena.

Previous laboratory studies on GTP-0805 found that the compound induced a greater than 90 per cent reduction in breast and prostate cancer cells.

"The early-stage in vitro investigations of GTP-0805 demonstrate the potential of the compound in the treatment of cancer,"​ said Dr Esra Ogru, executive director of research and development at Phosphagenics.

"We are particularly delighted with our initial test results because they suggest GTP-0805 has a unique action that selectively inhibits and destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged."

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