Prince Edward Island honey lozenges being used to transport medicine in clinical trial
© Submitted photo
Honibe honey lozenges
Island Abbey Foods Ltd. in Charlottetown may have opened a door to a multi-billion dollar industry that could, one day, save lives around the world.
The natural health product and specialty food producer, best known for its Honibe brand honey lozenge, is involved in clinical trials with Immunitor, developer of Immunoxel, an immunotherapy treatment utlilized for tuberculosis.
Immunitor received a $100,000 grant from Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the federal government, to conduct the clinical trials.
John Rowe, president of Island Abbey Foods, is obviously thrilled with the news.
Rowe says his company has been working with Immunitor for several years.
“They’ve discovered something really incredible,’’ Rowe said Wednesday, referring to Immunoxel, which features a combination of 20 herbs and other ingredients.
Immunitor was being sold in Europe for years as an immune booster. During testing, it was found that it also had an effect on tuberculosis.
“That’s incredible considering that tuberculosis is one of the biggest killers in the world," said Rowe. "Therapies that help offset it are expensive and they’re also pretty rough on people. Immunitor discovered their herbal remedy actually was more effective and had a more immediate impact than the drugs that are used, which is absolutely incredible.’’
Problem was, it was being produced in liquid form.
Rowe says it was often shipped in glass, making it susceptible to breakage, and getting the dosage just right could also be an issue.
So Immunitor wanted to test it in a solid format. They produced it in standard pressed pill and capsule form and in sugar-based solid format before discovering Island Abbey’s solid honey.
“This is a significant opportunity for both of us. We believe we can use honey lozenges to deliver anything and this is a validated example of that concept." Island Abbey Food president John Rowe
“They discovered that while the other solid formats had some efficacy the honey format was way more effective. These results were a welcome surprise but just absolutely incredible to what we’ve known for years, and for what we’ve tried to prove, which is that honey is an excellent carrier of different therapeutic ingredients but also has added benefits. We now have our first clinical evidence.’’
Rowe said the next step is to move to Round 2 of clinical trials, which is what the Grand Challenges grant was designed to do.
“This is a significant opportunity for both of us. We believe we can use honey lozenges to deliver anything and this is a validated example of that concept. We need proof like this in order to work with these big pharmaceutical companies or natural health product companies.’’
Typically, taking a drug from concept to retail takes about 10 years.
Rowe says Island Abbey likely won’t see any effect to its bottom line this year or next but will soon after that, if things continue to go well.
“It’s too early to say (what the impact for us) will be but if these clinical trials go well the proof is in the pudding. Then the opportunity is that this immunotherapy is accepted by health authorities around the world as an alternative to existing Tuberculosis drugs out there.’’