91-year-old scientist and ex-cabinet minister Pat McGeer's company obtains U.S. patent for new cancer treatment

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      Dr. Pat McGeer has achieved many milestones over the past nine decades.

      He competed as a Canadian basketball player in the 1948 Olympics.

      He's a UBC- and Princeton University-educated neuroscientist.

      McGeer, a UBC professor emeritus, served in the B.C. legislature for 24 years, leading the B.C. Liberal party from 1968 to 1972.

      He was also a Social Credit cabinet minister for 10 years. During that time, he helped kick-start B.C.'s high-tech sector and repeatedly made news with his advocacy for a fixed link to Vancouver Island.

      But the 91-year-old Vancouver resident's greatest claim to fame could turn out to be as a cancer researcher.

      In 2012, he and his wife Edith founded Aurin Biotech Inc., which created a drug called aurin tricarboxylic acid complex (ATAC).

      Last week, the company received a U.S. patent for the way in which it cuts the blood supply to a tumour, preventing it from growing.

      According to an Aurin Biotech news release, the oral medication accomplishes this "by preventing the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which induces capillary formation". 

      The news release states that "no other anti-cancer agents are known to arrest the progression of malignant tumours".

      And initial tests have shown no side effects in research subjects.

      “The most exciting aspect of this discovery is the unique way in which ATAC works,” McGeer said. “It starves the tumor of its needed blood supply by preventing the complement system from inducing it. A starved tumor may not disappear, but if it is arrested, it is no longer lethal. In other words, individuals doomed to die from a cancer can be rescued by this drug.”