Prof. Dr. Pavlina Dolashka from the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the BAS and her team were nominated for the "Inventor of the Year 2014" award by the Patent Office for a biological product from sea and garden snails with immunostimulating and antitumor effects. On this occasion, MyClinic asked Prof. Dolashka to explain the medicinal properties of the created products, although they are not registered as drugs, but as food supplements.
Prof. Dolashka, congratulations on the nomination "Inventor of the Year 2014". You win this award in 2012…
- Our team has more awards than the cups of "Levski" and CSKA. We won in 2012.the big "Inventor of the Year" statuette, in 2013 - the "Pythagoras" award for a scientific team with implemented developments in business, in 2014 - the "Inventor of the Year" gold plaque, the award for the best product of the United Business Clubs of international meeting in the Golden Sands resort, first prize of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the best project, etc. Our first patent was filed in 2009, but because it takes time to be recognized, it didn't come out until this year. During this time, we filed for another 4-5 patents.
Tell us about your first patent?
- Our first patent is for our research that proved the antitumor effect of one of the proteins in the snail's blood - hemocyanin.
We continue to work on this protein. It is our great desire to implement it into a real product. You probably know that it is almost impossible to make a medicinal preparation in Bulgaria. But as a company we have already won projects under the Operational Program "Competitiveness" and in this way we have created real products for gastritis and ulcers, as well as for the healing of severe wounds, for joints and bones, etc.
From our previous research over the years with various active ingredients in snail blood, we found that hemocyanin suppresses the development of cancer cells. We observed this action on bladder tumors. Colleagues from the Hospital of Urology in Germany isolated tumor cells from patients, and we tested the effect of hemocyanin on them in vitro.
There is also an anti-tumor preparation made from California clam created by a German company. We talked to its representatives and they were convinced of the effect of the hemocyanin products we developed. But the company explained to us that the creation of such
a drug will cost hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars
Also, the drug will compete with their California clam product. That's why they didn't want to commit to its production.
That is why we are very motivated to do it in Bulgaria. Of course, creating a product with an antitumor effect is much more complicated, because tumor formations are of many different types. In addition, this product must undergo clinical trials to reach patients. Our intention is to develop the antitumor gel on behalf of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. This is task 1 for our team. Unfortunately, the funding of science in Bulgaria is miserable. I hope that there will already be a different attitude towards the people of science and their work in order to realize this goal of ours. I'm glad science is already being talked about as a priority for the government.
How did you get into studying snail blood and mucus and their properties?
- The healing properties of snail mucus have been known for many years.
Patients with ulcers have swallowed live snails
But why do they have to swallow! With modern methods and techniques, together with our fellow professors from Germany, Belgium and Italy, we investigate the effect of the active ingredients from the mucus and blood of the snail on the cell. This is how we select the most active components. For example, we collect the pure mucus, process it and get a syrup to treat ulcers and gastritis.
What is the effect of your products?
- The effect of these products has been proven many times. We like to work together with doctors in hospitals and get feedback. Wound gel is suitable for large leg wounds caused by venous insufficiency. It is also very effective in decubitus wounds of bedridden people who are simply decomposing. We have pictures of many elderly people from a hospital in Vienna with healed severe bedsores. Everything is documented. I have cried in some of the pictures, seeing the state the person was in. But I am overjoyed when the wounds are healed. Keep in mind that in Austria they have a large range of medicinal preparations. But our preparation gives much better results and is ordered by doctors. We are so proud and happy with the wound gel.
In Bulgaria, we work with dermatologist Dr. Ivan Botev from Alexandrovska hospital. It treats wounds obtained after surgery for skin tumors and they actually heal faster. Now we also collaborate with Dr. Zdravka Demerdzhieva from Tokuda Hospital. My next dream is to develop together with them this development and get a gel with which we can also treat skin tumors directly.
Do you personally use any of your products?
- Apart from the face gels, I had to use the joint and bone product. I was in Germany when I suddenly felt a severe pain from my hip joint down my entire leg. The pain was so bad that I could neither stand up nor sit down. I had a HELIX&FLEXY pack and on the third day I felt good.
I assume these products don't have the side effects of chemical drugs?
- A pharmaceutical company in Slovakia wanted to stop our product because it competed with their synthetic product. I had to go to the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels and meet the head of the commission for new products. I explained to her that we do not boil or boil our products, but we purify the snail protein using various techniques to obtain the active substances and then stabilize them. So
no side effects can occur
When I went to the European Commission and showed the results of the action of our product, it was ordered that letters be sent to all 29 member countries of the European Union and that the product be distributed without restrictions. In Bulgaria, it is also quite difficult to break into pharmacies because of the pharmaceutical companies that hold the market. But people don't want to use synthetic products, they prefer natural ones.
Who are your foreign research partners?
- These are world-renowned German scientists such as Prof. Wolfgang Fölter, Prof. Stefanovic and Prof. Ramenzen.
The latter was nominated for a Nobel laureate 5 years ago. We also work with the Max Planck Institute, the Institute of Dermatology and Microbiology in Germany. Our collaboration with Prof. Van Beemen and with Prof. Devrizi from a leading mass spectrometry laboratory in Belgium is helpful. Through the most modern methods and techniques, we study the effect of our products on the living cell. These scientists are very happy with the real products we have been able to make and help us freely in all developments.
And what equipment do you have at BAS?
- 3-4 years ago, Prof. Fölter gave us two tons of second-hand equipment, but it was very valuable to us. So we have the essentials to receive and process the components for our products. We have the support of both the BAS and the Institute of Organic Chemistry. I am glad that my team is young and that in 7-8 years, when I retire from scientific activity, I will have trained, worthy, motivated followers.
Regenerative gel helps with non-healing wounds
Our first case was a patient with a thumb infection. For nearly half a year, this man's wound was treated with other gels. But when he came to us on crutches and took off his sock, we saw only one bone sticking out - no toe at all. We gave this man the wound gel, with the stipulation that he would take pictures of his leg every week to track the healing process. Gradually, the tissue of the thumb began to build and the wound healed. After a little more than two months, the man came without crutches. I asked him if he needed more gel. He said no and took out a box of candy. These candies were very sweet for us because we saw with our own eyes the effect of the wound gel.
Our most recent case is from the exhibition at the National Palace of Culture "Made in Bulgaria". A woman came from Kyustendil seeking a cure for her mother's unhealing wounds. She took a gel to try. This is how we advise people - not to buy more packs, but first to see how the product will work and then to order more. Later the same woman called and we sent her from the gel by courier to Kyustendil. Now, as a thank you, she sends us a carton of apples. The wound has healed and her mother is very happy.
The syrup for ulcers and gastritis is used by patients after chemotherapy. They feel very good with it because it soothes the stomach lining. Liver cleansing syrup is also useful to take after chemotherapy, as it improves the immune system. Just three days ago, a mother called from Burgas. Her 19-year-old daughter has tumors of the soft tissues of the internal organs. He underwent chemotherapy. I asked the office to prepare a parcel with both products as a donation for the girl.
With the help of students, we developed an acne serum
We have registered a European trademark “Golden Snail”. The regenerative gel for wounds is called "Mukofix", the syrup for gastritis and stomach ulcers is "Snail Elixir", for joints and bones it is HELIX & FLEXY, the syrup for cleansing the liver and excretory system is "Detox Liver". It strengthens the immune system and is recommended after the use of antibiotics. Since it is an extract of the herb Granny's teeth in combination with other ingredients, it is also extremely useful for gout.
We also have cosmetic products - regenerative gel with Q10 and "Snail Tear" acne serum. Curiously, the acne product was developed with the help of German high school students. Their German leader sends us two students each year. Then they participate with their developments in competitions for students in Germany. So with their help we developed the acne serum.