Over the past 25 years, Dr. Wee Yong has been passionate about investigating treatments for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) by translating his laboratory findings into clinical trials. Minocycline, a drug commonly used for acne, is one example of treatments Dr. Yong has researched. His lab discovered that minocycline has immune-modulating properties that may benefit MS, and this led him and his neurology colleagues to conduct three clinical trials on minocycline for MS. Upon conducting the clinical trials, the team found that minocycline reduces attacks in early MS. Furthermore, this medication is accessible and affordable for people who otherwise cannot pay for disease-modifying therapies. More recently, Dr. Wee Yong’s research has led to a clinical trial that investigates vitamin B3 as a potential treatment for the deadly brain tumor, glioblastoma.
Dr. Lin Tang worked closely with Dr. Wee Yong for 3 years when she was an innovation manager at Innovate Calgary, the innovation transfer and business incubator centre at the University of Calgary. One of her responsibilities was to identify industry partners to commercialize research findings into a product or a solution that would be accessible to the public. During her time at Innovate Calgary, Dr. Tang experienced firsthand the hesitation from industry partners, accompanied by comments like “too early”, “too risky” and “too small of a market”.
Frustrated by the unwillingness of others to take up the challenge yet encouraged by the potential impact on patients’ lives, Dr. Tang and Dr. Yong teamed up in the summer of 2020 and founded AnthoBio, a company dedicated to developing plant-derived bioactive compounds into health products available to MS patients. The goal is to develop an effective complementary therapy to help people live better with their MS and to prevent or slow their disability.