Exclusive CEO Interview: InMed Pharmaceuticals’ Biosynthesis Platform Results in an Industry First
November 6th, 2017
Exclusive, News, Top News
The cannabis industry is projected to reach $50 billion in size by 2026, but the pharmaceutical side of the industry could become even larger. While new discoveries have already shown tremendous promise, the industry faces many challenges when it comes to developing and scaling the production of cannabinoid therapeutics. Fortunately, there are some companies that aim to solve these issues, including InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF).
Watch CFN Media’s recent interview with InMed President and CEO Eric A. Adams. Mr. Adams discusses the company’s recent research results and their significance for both InMed and the canna-pharmaceutical industry in general.
Cannabis Industry Challenges
The cannabis industry is projected to reach $50 billion in size by 2026, according to Cowen & Co., driven by the legalization of recreational marijuana in states like California and Nevada. While many investors are focused on the recreational space, many companies have been advancing clinical trials demonstrating the medical value of cannabinoids in treating conditions like epilepsy, cancer pain, and glaucoma. Cannabinoids, the chemicals within the plant, are experiencing a significant interest in the research and development & commercialization of products for the pharmaceutical & nutraceutical markets. CBD as an example, in the U.S alone, has been estimated to grow to a $3b market by 2012, according to GreenWave Advisors.
Despite the remarkable growth, the industry faces many challenges when it comes to developing cannabinoid therapeutics and products. The process of growing, harvesting, extracting, and purifying cannabinoids is extremely costly and time-consuming. Many cannabinoids are also only found in trace amounts, which makes extraction economically unfeasible. At the same time, chemical synthesis has its own set of challenges and laboratory costs.
The ideal solution would be an easily scalable way to produce all 90+ cannabinoids within the cannabis plant to realize the synergistic effects that they have on each other. In addition, the process should be scalable in a way that medications could be easily manufactured for millions of people without the environmental and economic costs of growing and harvesting full cannabis plants only to use a small portion of them.
Unique Biosynthesis Program
InMed noticed that these problems mirrored a similar problem facing diabetics after the discovery of insulin. Prior to genetic advances in the 1970s, insulin was produced by manually extracting and purifying the drug from animals. Millions of people suffered from diabetes, but extraction from animals was an unsustainable and harmful way to mass produce a drug that was required in perpetuity by each patient.
In 1979, researchers discovered that the bacterium E. coli could be genetically engineered to produce insulin without having to extract it from animals. The vast majority of insulin sold around the world is now biosynthetic recombinant “human” insulin or its analogues.
InMed set out to apply the same process to produce cannabinoids at scale. The company systematically introduced the cannabis plant’s metabolic pathways into an E. coli-based manufacturing system and reported the production of downstream cannabinoids in these hosts. This could open the door to industrial-scale manufacturing of naturally-occurring cannabinoids and represents a big advancement over existing methods. This disruptive technology would be a game changer for the industry and a possible replacement for the current plant based extraction methods.
In late-September, the company announced that it has successfully demonstrated that it can produce multiple “gateway” cannabinoids using genetically engineered microorganisms. These molecules can be functionalized further to produce any of the 90+ “downstream” cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. The company had employed this production chassis to synthesize compounds for pharmaceutical research programs.
Importantly, InMed announced that Ben Paterson has been retained for the development of this program. Mr. Paterson has nearly four decades of experience in developing pharmaceutical manufacturing and purification processes. He was previously a Senior Engineering Advisor with Eli Lilly and Company, where he spent 37 years, including 24 years in their biosynthesis division. His expertise includes first defining processes in the lab, then scaling up to pilot and commercial scale. Mr. Paterson has conducted design, construction, operation, optimization, and troubleshooting of both large and small molecule drug facilities including the E. coli biosynthesis of numerous products. He brings experience in the seamless integration of biochemistry, equipment, and process control to successfully define a “process” at scale.
Positive Early Clinical Results
InMed’s initial application of this technology has been in the ocular market where it recently announced positive pre-clinical data on its hydro-gel cannabinoid product formulation. The study was the first ever to use a nanoparticle hydrogel for cannabinoid drug delivery into the eye, which resulted in direct drug uptake by the cornea and lens. The full results have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
Eye drops are the conventional delivery method for eye treatments, but they are easily washed away when blinking. On average, less than 5% of the drug reaches its target tissue. Hydrogel offers unique rheological characteristics that enable it to form a thin uniform coating, a ‘gel-like lens’, over the cornea through the blinking of the eyelid. The lens holds in place and allows transcorneal absorption of the drug that was three times higher than the control formulation.
More importantly, the study showcases the company’s capacity to complete various full-scale drug development programs using its biosynthesis process and other drug development technologies, including its bioinformatics platform. These same tools could be applied to other clinical programs or even licensed to pharmaceutical companies that wish to improve their drug development programs.
The company estimates that sometime in 2018 is very realistic for filing an IND and moving towards Phase 1 clinical trials.
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CSE: IN) (OTCQB: IMLFF) represents a compelling investment opportunity in the cannabinoid research and development space. With positive pre-clinical findings, the company has demonstrated its ability to leverage its drug development technologies to develop potentially breakthrough products. Investors interested in the space may want to consider building a stake ahead of official clinical trials.
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CFN Media (CannabisFN) is the leading creative agency and media network dedicated to legal cannabis. We help marijuana businesses attract investors, customers (B2B, B2C), capital, and media visibility. Private and public marijuana companies and brands in the US and Canada rely on CFN Media to grow and succeed.
CFN launched in June of 2013 to initially serve the growing universe of publicly traded marijuana companies across North America. Today, CFN Media is also the digital media choice for the emerging brands in the space.
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