The big issues in health around the world have been with us for some time and have been the focus of extensive research.
And yet solutions to them are not coming in a rush.
This isn’t a reflection on the quality of research, just the difficulty of the challenges these health issues present.
If we list some of the biggest health issues they are cancer, depression, obesity, heart disease and addiction to opiates for pain management that the US government has designated a health crisis.
Traditional pathways to solutions for some of these issues have not been exhausted but new pathways are also being developed, based on a growing area of investigation around bacteria in the human microbiome, mainly the gut.
In 2008 the US National Institute of Health began the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year program intended to broaden medical understanding of the role of bacteria living in and on humans.
Work from this around the world is promising and living up to its aim in medical research of allowing new approaches to resolving chronic health issues.
If you consider these issues you might wonder how a relatively small life sciences company based in Australia could make a difference in the face of massive global research programs.
As it turns out, Medlab Clinical’s research and development program guided by chronic health issues is yielding some exciting and promising results.
Underlying Medlab’s research direction is also a commercial focus – shaping some of our research towards clinical trials and other aspects towards consumers who can access it through approved practitioners.
Maybe some examples might help.
In the cancer area, as a plausible answer to patients relying on ineffective and/or addictive opiates for pain management, we’ve developed a cannabis-based alternative, currently, part of a clinical trial, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.
Separately, cancer treatment relies so often on chemotherapy which for many patients causes nausea and vomiting, so we have another cannabis based medicine ready for clinical trial which alleviates these side effects.
Seeking evidence-based outcomes for applying this research is in contrast to the way the medical cannabis industry is developing.
A simple issue underlying a lot of medical research is to gauge dosage to achieve the desired effect, with drug administration often in the form of tablets or injections.
Medlab Clinical’s research also includes the development of a nano-particle spray for medicine delivery, with indications it can speed delivery into the bloodstream as well as requiring lower doses.
A trial to verify this spray delivery of statins, a global drug used by millions to reduce cholesterol as a contributor to improved heart health, is currently underway.
From its bacteria-based research, Medlab Clinical has 30 products being sold at the moment with two clinical trials at the Phase 2a stage.
The basic principle underlying these developments is that bacteria-based medicines which can improve the functioning of the gut and subsequently reduce inflammation can not only improve underlying health but also improve the body’s receptivity to standard medicines.
In depression, Medlab Clinical’s research has found that since standard medication only works on 30 per cent of patients and that a factor most patients have in common is poor gut health, it is getting positive results from a specific probiotic formulation that improves gut health and receptivity of standard treatments.
Similarly, in obesity and diabetes, Medlab Clinical’s research is finding that a better functioning gut can curb appetite which leads to better health and weight while also reducing HbA1c levels.
Taking all this research to global markets is not something Medlab Clinical plans to do on its own – it intends to bring in partners from big pharma to add their power and expertise to make this possible.
So often medical breakthroughs come from standing on the shoulders of others and in a sense that is what Medlab Clinical is doing, adding its touch to research directions towards helping to solve some of the big issues of our time.
This is the first in a series of blogs by Dr Sean Hall, Managing Director of Medlab Clinical Ltd. The theme of the blogs is to place Medlab’s research and development directly into the context of world issues and related research. Forthcoming topics will cover depression, obesity and the development of cannabis medicines as a substitute for opiates.