CFN Media’s Exclusive Interview With Lexaria Bioscience CEO Chris Bunka
May 31st, 2018
Exclusive, News, Top News
Despite cannabis remaining illegal in most parts of the world, cutting-edge research into the plant’s profound abilities continue to expand. Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (OTCQX: LXRP) (CSE: LXX) is paving the road in terms of cannabinoid delivery research and development. Their patented DehydraTECH™ technology allows for the oral consumption of cannabinoids without the typical scent and flavor, while also avoiding first-pass liver metabolism. Nuka Enterprises LLC, one of the largest edible manufacturers in the world, recently signed a 10-year agreement with Lexaria in order to continue bringing delicious and effective 1906 chocolates to consumers across the globe.
CFN Media spoke with Lexaria CEO Chris Bunka at the recent MJBizNEXT Conference in New Orleans to learn more about the firm’s innovation and their plans to dramatically change the way people think about cannabis.
CFN: How does your DehydraTECH™ delivery method work?
Chris Bunka: We believe that infused foods should taste more like food and less like marijuana. Our consumers find their coffee tastes a bit more like coffee and less like cannabis, and additionally notice that the cannabinoids take effect faster, and they feel a different type of effect than the typical edible. For medical patients who medicate often, that difference means a lot.
Our tech allows cannabinoids to avoid first pass liver metabolism, and that’s why we have some dramatic biochemical differences. We take a cannabinoid and we kind of “glue” it to oleic acid, which is a sub-component of sunflower oil or olive oil; both long chain fatty acids.
That “gluing” is really important, and sunflower oil is a really good choice because it has a neutral taste. If you tried olive oil, you’ll taste plant, it tastes different. So, when we “glue” the THC or the CBD or the terpenes to the oleic acid, you get that neutral flavor, and it’s pretty dramatic in most things. We put it in coffee, tea, water, white wine, beer, protein bars, cookies, chocolates, candies, gummies; we put it into so many things. Basically, about 99 percent of the strong flavor is gone, and you don’t have to add any sugar, and you don’t have to add any chemicals.
When you swallow food, it goes into your stomach. Whatever doesn’t get absorbed obviously gets excreted as waste, but as it passes through the intestine, there’s all these opportunities to get absorbed across the intestinal wall. Well, the intestinal wall is not just a filter. It’s not just this physical barrier. It’s actually a very highly communicative, two way, sensing organ. There’s sensing apparatus all over it, and those senroy cells are looking for what is it that’s here. “Is it a fat? What kind of fat? Is it a protein? Is it sugar? What kind of sugar?”
Depending on all sorts of different stuff, which one of those receptors are being triggered, different signals get sent to your pancreas and different biomes are created to help pull those nutrients across the intestinal wall. Your body is actually actively trying to pull those nutrients in. Well, oleic acid is like the wonder molecule as far as your intestine is concerned. It’s one of the only things you can swallow that does not get passed through the intestinal wall and then delivered to the hepatic vein that goes to the liver for first pass liver absorption.
CFN: Tell us about your intellectual property?
CB: Our patent portfolio is super strong. Last December, we received our first patent from the U.S. Patent Office on nicotine and the ibuprofen and aspirin delivery as well as the cannabinoids. We’re in the active investigation phase in the EU, Canada, China, Japan, and India right now, so we’ll probably have additional progress there soon. Our IP lawyer has joined our advisory board because he’s really fascinated with what we’re doing, and he has a PhD in neuroscience, as well as being a patent attorney.
We’re filing new patent applications all the time. So, in the industry, I know that GW certainly has more patents and patent applications than we do, and I know that Canopy up in Canada is pretty much neck and neck with us. They’re in the 30-40 patent application range, and so are we. Maybe we’re a little ahead by numbers, but I’m almost certain that Canopy, for example, has no granted patents, and I know that GW only has a few, and we are kind of neck and neck with them also. We are right at the leading edge in the world for patent applications and patent granting, and IP in the cannabis sector.
CFN: What types of exciting discoveries have you been making in your research?
CB: We conducted a study recently on rats, using nicotine as an active ingredient. Blood tests showed we are getting an average of 50 percent more nicotine into the rats’ blood compared to rats in the control group. We said okay, well, that’s good. So, if I had 10 milligrams of THC, it’ll have the effect of 15 compared to not using our tech. We also took kidney, liver and brain tissue samples, and found in the brain we had 560 percent more nicotine with our tech than without. That is a profound discovery because frankly, we don’t know exactly how we did it. There was 50 percent more level in the blood plasma and so you would naturally think, “Okay, there’s 50 percent more available to penetrate to receptors anywhere”, but instead it increased 11-fold: 50 percent to 550.
We already knew that our tech crosses the intestinal wall way more effectively but based on these results, we’re wondering if affects blood-brain barrier transmission as well. If it does, this has the potential to have profound ramifications for pharmaceuticals and biotech, and not just cannabis. Here is research that is being done, all originating out of the cannabis industry, for the cannabis industry, that could have profound public health consequences for applications from cancer, brain tumors, the ability to be able to deliver to the brain substances that right now can’t get across that barrier.
That’s massive potential but it is early, early, early days, and we’ve done one study, and it’s on rats, it’s not humans; so there’s a lot of area we still need to grow our knowledge. Still, it’s a profoundly unusual and unexpected result, and we’ve talked to a number of leading PhD researchers around the world in the three weeks since we’ve published that, and none of them can explain it. We’re going to repeat the study and do a larger population of animals. We only had 12 rats in that study. In the next one, we were thinking of doing 30, or 40, or 50. That would give you more robust data and additional opportunities. If it repeats, I can’t tell you how big this is to us.
CFN: Why should potential investors consider Lexaria?
CB: Unlike some companies, we really do actually respect our shareholders. I don’t go for this new modern idea of issuing hundreds and hundreds of millions of shares because there is a big cost to issue 100 million shares which will raise a lot of money in the process: and yes it can help you build your business and yes it can help you to preserve your jobs – it can do all those things. That’s all really, really good: but you’ve completely skewered your investors because you’ve issued so many shares. How much additional value are you going to have to create to justify that market cap? If you look at us, our share count has probably grown among the least on the continent in the last three to four years compared to other companies in our sector. We’re at about 71 million shares outstanding today. That’s still really low compared to most of the others.
Unlike some of these other companies that need tens of millions of dollars to operate and grow before they hit cash-flow positive or profitability, our burn rate is super, super low – so a couple million dollars goes a long way with us, and our cash-flows are increasing, because we’re a licensing and R&D company. One of the biggest considerations of all the companies that you can think of that are public in the cannabis space – I don’t think there’s another one that comes remotely close to us in this way – is to be able to match the applicability of our business model outside of cannabis. Our valuation has gone up by close to 2000 percent in the last couple of years because our tech applies to several different sectors.
One of the main things I want people to realize is: this is for real. This is not a game to the management of Lexaria. None of us are interested in some quick market appreciation in order to dump a million bucks worth of stock. I started buying stock in this company in 2005, and I have never sold a share. In 2014-15, I bought about another 6 million shares out of the market, just like anyone else can, and I’ve never sold one of those shares, either. They’re all sitting in my accounts. I know it’s so corny, but we are actually interested in changing the world. We think we can slow down disease, we think we can save lives, we think we can make cannabis more acceptable for the general population and take the stink factor out, and that’s all positive stuff.
We ARE going to make the world a better place and our accomplishments so far are nothing compared to what we have planned.
Please visit the company website: https://www.lexariabioscience.com
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