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We Cant Tell Everything

The Editor, Sir:

The following letter was submitted by Dr Henry Lowe, executive chairman of the Environmental Health Foundation, on behalf of Dr Joseph Bryant, in response to Professor William Aiken’s article in the Gleaner of December 7.

Dear Sir:

This is a response to the article in The Gleaner published on Tuesday, December 7, titled ‘Prostate cancer breakthrough: Overstated and premature’. As a scientist who works with Dr Lowe and other scientists in the field of oncology on the development of drugs to fight cancer, I wish to state that the research that we have done in the laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Maryland’s Medical School, is second to none.

We have extracted chemical compounds from a Jamaican indigenous plant (ball moss/old man’s beard), which has been demonstrated to kill prostate cancer and other cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. More specifically, we have identified, among others, a compound named soya-sasponin 1, which has been shown to be a sialotransferase (SI) inhibitor.

It is well known that many cancer cells, including prostate cancer cells, possess these enzymes to allow propagation of the cancer. The compound from this plant possesses this and probably others (SI inhibitors). In addition, we have clearly shown that the semi-purified and the purified compounds from Ball Moss isolates are powerful anti-cancer agents that work through apoptosis in a series of five different cancers, including prostate cancer. This was announced three years ago and significant additional data on the mechanism of action against cancers have been established.

Dr Aiken has stated that there have been some questions about the scientific data for public scientific scrutiny at scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed academic journals. Let me address this by stating that Dr Lowe has presented his findings at several scientific fora, the most recent of which was the International Drug Discovery Science & Technology congress, in Beijing, China. It should be noted that some of the most challenging aspects of the work were performed at one of the premier biotech institutions in Boston, Massachusetts which, by the way, helped develop Taxol and Bryostatin. This biotech company works closely with the National Institute of Health in the United States.


Dr Lowe and his collaborators are also working very closely with the Research Triangle Institute in the United States with their Natural Product Discovery branch. They are credited with the discovery of Taxol, one of the most potent anti-cancer drugs (from a plant) and other well-known chemotherapeutic drugs. We, who are working with Dr Lowe, are confident that we will accomplish our goal of taking the isolation of the anti-cancer agents from ball moss into a final ethical drug product in the near future.

While we have not published our findings in the scientific literature, it has been publicly presented and has been internationally patented and examined by experts in the field. Since commercialisation is a major objective, we naturally cannot publish all our data, otherwise people will take our intellectual property and use it.

Last, we are in contact with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the USA at the National Product branch to start analysis of Dr Lowe’s anti-cancer compounds, which underwent strenuous in vitro and in vivo testing of compounds. This will later lead to clinical trials sponsored by NCI.

For the sake of publications, our scientific process cannot be compromised and, indeed, the publication of too much information will allow others to receive credit for this discovery instead of Dr Henry Lowe and his colleagues.

I am, etc.,

University of Maryland,
School of Medicine
Institute of Human Virology
Baltimore, Maryland

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