N.C. A&T Scientist Patents Additional Cancer-Fighting Compounds

Greensboro, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2017) - Dr. Shengmin Sang, a food scientist with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has received another patent for compounds comprising aspirin and ginger derivatives that have shown promise for preventing and treating cancer. This patent supplements a patent Sang received in 2015 for other novel aspirin-derived compounds.

“N.C. A&T is working with Dr. Sang to build a robust patent portfolio around this ground-breaking research, and we are delighted by this most recent recognition,” says Dr. Laura Collins, director of intellectual property development within A&T’s Division of Research and Economic Development.

Combining aspirin and ginger derivatives with anti-cancer properties, the newly patented compounds are more effective than their individual components in killing colon cancer cells in laboratory tests. The compounds are prodrugs, which become pharmacologically active when they are metabolized.

In addition to their anti-cancer properties, the new ginger-based derivatives have the potential to reduce the irritation of the digestive system frequently caused by aspirin. If the compounds can lessen those adverse side effects, more patients could benefit from aspirin’s ability to prevent or treat colon cancer, heart disease and other disorders.

Sang, a professor and lead scientist for functional foods at the university’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, also studies bioactive compounds in tea, whole grains (wheat, oats, barley and corn), apples, rosemary and other foods.

“Our idea is to use a combination of natural products with aspirin,” Sang says. “We use a prodrug approach to reduce the side effects caused by aspirin and to enhance the overall efficacy.”

His research has already attracted interest from a pharmaceutical company. In March, N.C. A&T signed an exclusive licensing agreement with SARISA Therapeutics, an Invensure Company based in Minneapolis, to commercialize Sang’s patented aspirin-derived compounds.

The National Institutes of Health and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center provided funding for the research that led to Sang’s patents.

The Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis is administered by the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at A&T. The university is an 1890 land-grant doctoral research institution dedicated to learning, discovery and community engagement.