Windsor Star: Dandelion cancer treatment research leads to award

A University of Windsor postdoctoral student received a prestigious award in Ottawa Tuesday night for her work in studying the efficacy of using dandelion extract to battle cancer.

“It feels amazing,” said Pamela Ovadje, 29. “It was unexpected but I’m very excited.”

Ovadje, who is in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Windsor, received the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation — Postdoctoral for her work in a ceremony at the Delta Hotel in downtown Ottawa.

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that partners companies, government and academia to promote Canadian research and training.

Ovadje’s dandelion extract is on the verge of beginning clinical trials approved by Health Canada on about 30 cancer sufferers.

Ovadje and her fellow researchers and supervisor Dr. Siyaram Pandey have paired up with a manufacturer for the extract, Advanced Orthomolecular Research, a Calgary-based supplement formulator.

“We will be looking at patients who have exhausted all other options to see if they respond positively,” said Ovadje.

“If we don’t see any toxic effect from the extract, we can broaden the scope of the trial to include people earlier on in their diagnosis who may rather have a natural health product as an option.”

In the long run, the use of an extract, if effective, would be a much more cost-effective way to treat cancer, particularly compared to chemotherapy.

“Often you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars for a round of chemotherapy,” said Ovadje. “Providing dandelion root extract at a much cheaper cost, if it shows the same benefits, means we’re no longer breaking the bank to save a patient’s life.”

Ovadje is one of seven Mitacs award winners nationally, chosen from thousands of researchers who participate in Mitacs programs.

Ovadje’s research is also acknowledged for highlighting the need for more rigid regulations of health products generally.

“The good news is we’re making headway,” said Ovadje, who also sits on the board of the Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada.

“Our goal is to make sure people have all of the information they need to make an informed decision when they decide to take a natural product.”

Chris Thompson, Windsor Star