9 Nov 2005

Further research required in Fiji over exciting chemical find

8:00 pm on 9 November 2005

There is to be further research into promising chemicals discovered in Fiji to see if they have the potential to be developed into drugs for the treatment of cancer and HIV.

But, the head of the team which discovered them, Professor William Aalbersberg, who is the Director of Applied Science at the University of the South Pacific, is cautioning against unrealistic expectations.

He says the chemicals, which were found in marine invertebrates, did show strong activity in anti-cancer tests, but these were initial screenings only.

Professor Aalbersberg says even if other results are promising, it could take ten to fifteen years to develop a drug.

"There are a number of marine organisms that are very getting very close to being developed into anti-cancer drugs, so this will enter that queue of things that has a lot of potential and could obviously help humankind. And, at the same time bring the benefits back to developing countries."

Professor Aalbersberg says the chemicals have been patented by the U.S.P, the Fiji government, and the project partners, Georgia Tech in the the U.S.