CILR researchers screened legumes (plants which obtain useable nitrogen from soil bacteria in their roots) for biological activity and they identified a number of compounds which could potentially prevent the formation of a blood supply to tumours. Without an adequate blood supply tumours stop growing and ultimately can regress.
The research has attracted major international interest for intensive collaboration and joint development.
The discovery has resulted in a formal research collaboration which is currently underway with French "CSIRO-equivalent" Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Co-investment discussions are also in progress with a New Zealand company.
The CILR formed a commercialisation business "Meristomics" last October to commercialise plant research discoveries. CILR's partner universities (the University of Queensland, Australian National University, University of Newcastle and University of Melbourne) passed on their commercialisation rights to Uniquest Pty Ltd, the University of Queensland's main commercialisation company.
Meristomics Chief Executive Officer Ian Harris said successful completion of this patent demonstrated that Meristomics was an effective model for commercialisation involving multiple partner universities.
"Through UniQuest, Meristomics had immediate access to substantial commercial expertise and is looking to build on its patent success by attracting further funding to progress the research," Mr Harris said.
The anti-cancer molecules are produced by legumes during the early symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria known as rhizobia. Rhizobia induce legumes to form tiny new root organs called "root nodules." The bacteria live in the nodules and provide the plant with useable nitrogen it can convert into proteins.