Portuguese pharmaceutical company Tecnophage wants to launch a supplement in Europe this year with “very promising” results in Parkinson’s disease, based on University of Macau research into a fruit used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Tecnophage chief executive Miguel Garcia told Lusa that the biotech company is “in the final stages” of toxicity testing of the molecule, which should be completed “in the first quarter”.
The drug company is already “developing a case to be able to move forward from a regulatory point of view” for registration as a dietary supplement “in Europe and maybe then in the United States,” Garcia explained.
The businessman emphasized that the results of the tests on the effectiveness of the molecule, carried out in animals, in the laboratory of the professor of the University of Macau Simon Lee Ming Yuen, “are very promising”.
Tests have shown it can reduce memory loss and movement control, symptoms of “neurocognitive degeneration” caused not only by Parkinson’s disease, but also by Alzheimer’s disease, Simon Lee told Lusa.
The Chinese researcher explained that opting for a dietary supplement allows the product “to be on supermarket shelves earlier and become more well-known.”
Miguel García assured that Tecnophage’s ultimate goal is to launch a drug, but reminded that the approval process requires “a series of clinical trials” and therefore “many more years are needed and a lot of money is spent.”
The molecule was isolated from alpinia oxyphylla, a small ginger-like fruit that is used “not only in traditional Chinese medicine, but also, especially in the south, in Guangdong, as part of nutritional therapy,” said Simon Lee.
The researcher defended that betting on the Western method of isolating chemical molecules and registering them to attract investment is the way to bring “treasures of traditional wisdom” to a wider audience.
Even so, Lee admitted that the method is “sometimes very controversial” and the target of strong criticism from traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, mainly because “single molecules don’t always work.”
The expert gave the example of HIV patients treated with a “cocktail” of antiretroviral drugs and malaria, whose treatment, discovered by the Chinese scientist with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015 Tu Youyou, is based on the artemisia plant.
However, Miguel Garcia believes in the possibility of “extracting single molecules” from traditional Chinese medicine products “and then following the traditional route” to pharmaceutical approval in the West.
Since 2014 Technophage has entered into a collaboration agreement with Simon Lee’s lab at the University of Macau, and Miguel Garcia continues to “believe it has a lot of potential for future synergies.”