PolyU has played a significant role in cancer research over the years through its Lo Ka Chung Centre for Natural Anti-Cancer Drug Development. The Centre’s team led by Prof. Thomas Leung and Dr Thomas Lo has made an important discovery related to arginine, an essential amino acid for the growth of cancer cells. Cancer cells fail to synthesise their own arginine and have to acquire it from the blood. Researchers found that deprivation of arginine induces cancer cells to death while leaving normal cells unharmed.
PolyU jointly researched BCT-100 with Bio-Cancer Treatment International Limited (BCT) at the laboratory stage. BCT-100 is a new drug that depletes arginine with a natural human enzyme. Thereafter, BCT followed up on additional research and development. Submitted by BCT as its sole owner, BCT-100 has become Hong Kong’s first Investigational New Drug (IND) approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It was recently granted approval for clinical trials by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. The clinical trials have shown promising results, with BCT-100 proven to work for skin cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer with little side effects. The drug can not only prolong the lives of cancer patients, but can also enhance the quality of their lives. BCT-100 is expected to be made available to the market in 2022-23.