Angel Investor Boosts Windsor Dandelion Root Cancer Research

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Windsor Star/Craig Pearson

With Video

A millionaire Toronto Internet entrepreneur has invested in a Windsor cancer-killing dandelion tea — with a taste for more.

Jesse Rasch, a philanthropist who made a fortune as a digital-age angel investor, was “awestruck” when he read about University of Windsor biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey’s cutting-edge cancer research with dandelion root extract.

So the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation recently gave Pandey an $80,000 grant to explore dandelion’s anti-cancer properties with lymphoma, as well as to test a dozen potential natural remedies, such as turmeric, gooseberries and neem leaf.

“We think Dr. Pandey’s work is really exciting, with strong scientific merit,” Rasch told The Star. “Unfortunately, I think it’s highly unlikely to be funded on that tremendous merit because this kind of scientific inquiry is mistrusted by mainstream academics and medicine. So the responsibility falls to small foundations like ours who are willing to put capital at risk to advance the promising treatments of the natural compounds that Dr. Pandey is working with.”

Rasch believes some natural compounds not only have the potential to one day help cure cancer, but to do so without the highly toxic effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Exploring such alternative treatments as intravenous vitamin C has a way of attracting criticism. But Rasch doesn’t care. He has seen studies suggesting certain herbal teas help fight various diseases, and he hopes Pandey can prove it.

“We think there’s a lot of efficacy and a very low cost to deliver these treatments,” Rasch said. “They’re especially relevant in a health care system that’s collapsing under the weight of very expensive pharmacological treatments. It’s also relevant for exporting potential cures around the world where there is simply not the budget for Third World countries to afford expensive pharmaceuticals.

“Frankly, some of these natural products, which have a lot of promise, cost pennies a day.”

Pandey is thrilled to attract the support of the Rasch Foundation, since it shows interest is growing. He has previously received Seeds 4 Hope grants from the Windsor Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation. And he has started Health Canada-approved clinical trials, which he hopes to finish next year.

Though Pandey came from India to Canada in 1993  – and to Windsor in 2000 — he did not bring the Indian tradition of natural medicines. Instead, he was doubtful when fellow U of W scientist Caroline Hamm urged him to explore natural products.

“I was very skeptical like any of the scientists,” Pandey said. “But when I saw the results, I fell for it.”

He is even more impressed lately, thanks to 23 success stories with tackling cancer, though he needs more to satisfy scientific standards.

“We want to clear the air for the public,” said Pandey, noting that dandelion root extract has already killed some lymphoma cells in preliminary lab tests. “We want to say, ‘Yes, there is scientific proof of this.’”

Pandey hopes to make Windsor a hub for natural disease-fighting remedies, possibly partnering with the University of Guelph and Health Canada.

“That is my wish,” he said. “Windsor could be the first to have this.”