Peplin: fighting cancer with a common garden weed

We're helping an Australian company manufacture a skin cancer treatment out of a common weed.

The Challenge

Skin cancers are on the increase

Every year around 2-3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed around the world.

As these numbers increase, so does the need for effective treatments.

Euphorbia peplus is a weed found in many Australian gardens. The plant produces a milky sap that has been used as a natural remedy for skin cancers like actinic keratosis.

Our industry customer, Peplin Biotech Pty Ltd, wanted to identify the active component of Euphorbia peplus and determine its potential as a drug for treating actinic keratosis.

Our Response

Euphorbia peplus, common garden weed

Providing a means of reducing non-melanoma skin cancers is important to us, as is supporting an Australian company in their challenge to produce an effective skin cancer treatment.

Euphorbia peplus - the little weed fighting skin cancer © Kathleen Turner

Our biomedical manufacturing team, in conjunction with University of Queensland, were able to provide Peplin with high purity samples of Euphorbia peplus components and related compounds from other Euphorbia species.

Our legal team worked to establish a secure intellectual property position on Euphorbia peplus and its analogues, and assisted Peplin in the preparation of patents.

The Results

A reduction in the number of non-melanoma skin cancers

The outcome of this work is a product called Picato®, a fast-acting gel that treats actinic keratosis. Picato® is now on the market in both Australia and overseas and is being successfully used to clinically treat sunspots and prevent them from progressing to carcinomas.

Continuing employment for Australians.

In 2009 Peplin Biotech was acquired by Leo Pharma for $287.5 million, with the retention of the production facility in Australia.


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