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The Power of Biodiscovery: Unlocking the Potential of Natural Resources

  • Published August 24, 2023 11:00PM UTC
  • Publisher Wholesale Investor
  • Categories Capital Insights, Company Updates, Trending

In a groundbreaking keynote address at Venture & Capital Sydney, Dr. Victoria Gordon, CEO & Managing Director at QBiotics Group Limited, illuminated the incredible world of biodiscovery and its profound implications for healthcare. 

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The Origins of Biodiscovery

Biodiscovery, as Dr. Gordon passionately explained, has deep roots in the history of medicine. She began by recounting how Bayer, in the late 1800s, extracted Aspirin from willow tree bark, initiating a pharmaceutical revolution. This momentous discovery marked the inception of a new era in healthcare, as it highlighted the potential of natural resources. Since then, scientists have continued to unlock nature’s secrets, yielding vital medicines like Taxol from yew trees and Vincristine from the Madagascar periwinkle. These small molecules, prized for their cost-effectiveness and efficacy, form the cornerstone of the pharmaceutical industry, with 45% of registered medicines attributed to biodiscovery.

The Challenges of Biodiscovery

Dr. Gordon acknowledged that while biodiscovery has produced invaluable drugs, its traditional methods relied heavily on serendipity and yielded a meager success rate of 1 in 1000 collections. Consequently, the pharmaceutical industry has shifted its focus to biologics. Merck’s groundbreaking drug, KEYTRUDA, a cancer-fighting immune checkpoint inhibitor, stands as a testament to the industry’s evolution.

Nature’s Extraordinary Potential

Despite the challenges, Dr. Gordon emphasised that nature offers unparalleled opportunities for biodiscovery. The diversity of chemical compounds found in plants and animals is astounding, and their biological origins make them remarkably compatible with the human body. This shared biochemistry between plants, animals, and humans opens doors to discovering drugs with unique properties and unparalleled benefits.

A Knowledge-Driven Approach

QBiotics, under Dr. Gordon’s visionary leadership, has adopted a knowledge-based approach to biodiscovery. Instead of relying on luck, they combine plant ecology and ecological interactions to pinpoint specific biological activities. Their platform technology, EcoLogic, boasts a remarkable 90% success rate in identifying plant materials with desired properties, revolutionising the field.

Australia’s Rainforest: A Biodiscovery Paradise

Dr. Gordon passionately spoke about Australia’s tropical rainforest, a treasure trove of innovation. This unique ecosystem houses 13 of the 15 global rainforest types, offering a biodiverse landscape teeming with potential drug sources. Australia’s robust legal and political infrastructure supports intellectual property protection, making it an ideal hub for biodiscovery research.

Unraveling Nature’s Wisdom

Plants, Dr. Gordon explained, are remarkably intelligent organisms. They produce a myriad of chemicals, each serving distinct functions. By isolating and studying these chemical variations, scientists can gain insights into the structure-activity relationships of molecules, potentially leading to the synthesis of even more effective drugs. This approach not only births novel medications but also extends the lifespan of existing drugs through patents and novel formulations.

Triumph in Cancer Treatment: Tigilanol

One of QBiotics’ most promising discoveries is Tigilanol, an intratumoral drug designed for cancer treatment. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, this small molecule acts as a signaling molecule within the tumor. It activates protein kinases, resulting in rapid tumor destruction within a mere five to seven days. Furthermore, Tigilanol stimulates healing at the injection site and exhibits potential in targeting metastasised tumors. Clinical trials have shown promising results, and collaborations with key opinion leaders and major hospitals worldwide are underway to further develop this revolutionary drug.

Transforming Wound Healing: EBC-1013

In addition to cancer treatment, QBiotics has made remarkable strides in the field of wound healing. Their drug, EBC-1013, shows immense promise in treating both acute and chronic wounds. With its three-fold action—killing bacteria, promoting scar-free wound healing, and providing wound coverage—this drug has demonstrated effectiveness in veterinary medicine. Human trials are imminent, and even the US military has expressed interest in this groundbreaking solution.

Combating Antibiotic Resistance

Lastly, Dr. Gordon delved into the pressing issue of antibiotic resistance. With the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, traditional antibiotics are losing their efficacy. QBiotics’ approach targets the virulence of bacteria rather than outright destruction, reducing the development of resistance. Their small molecules have exhibited remarkable results against a wide range of bacteria, including the notorious MRSA and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The Path Forward

Dr. Victoria Gordon’s keynote address underscored the power of biodiscovery in unlocking nature’s potential to provide innovative solutions to major health challenges. By harnessing the rich chemistry of the natural world, we can develop drugs that are not only effective but also have a reduced risk of resistance. The success achieved in veterinary medicine serves as a promising foundation for human clinical trials. With ongoing research and collaboration with key stakeholders, QBiotics is poised to shape the future of healthcare through biodiscovery.

In conclusion, Dr. Gordon’s insights reaffirm biodiscovery as a formidable tool for tapping into nature’s vast potential. Australia’s tropical rainforest, with its unparalleled biodiversity, offers a unique arena for drug discovery. By adopting a knowledge-driven approach and leveraging the wisdom of plants, we stand on the cusp of addressing significant health challenges such as cancer, wound healing, and antibiotic resistance. The future of biodiscovery is undeniably bright, and the journey to unlock nature’s secrets for the betterment of human health continues with unwavering optimism.

FAQs

1. What is biodiscovery? 

Biodiscovery is the process of discovering medicines and drugs from natural resources, such as plants and animals.

2. What makes Australia’s rainforest ideal for biodiscovery research?

Australia’s rainforest is incredibly biodiverse, containing numerous plant and animal species that offer potential sources for new drugs. Additionally, Australia’s strong legal and political infrastructure supports intellectual property protection.

3. How does Tigilanol work in cancer treatment? 

Tigilanol is injected directly into tumors and acts as a signaling molecule, rapidly destroying the tumor within days.

4. What is QBiotics’ approach to combating antibiotic resistance? 

QBiotics focuses on reducing the virulence of bacteria rather than killing them, thus lowering the development of antibiotic resistance.

5. What is the success rate of QBiotics’ EcoLogic platform? 

EcoLogic boasts an impressive 90% success rate in identifying plant materials with desired biological activities.

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