Privately-held PurMinds BioPharma (Burlington, Ontario, Canada) recently announced an investment in the psychedelic drug company IMIO Life Ltd., a subsidiary of Tel Aviv–based Nextage Therapeutics Ltd. (TASE:NXTG). Nextage Therapeutics is itself a division of the pharmaceutical company Nextar Chempharma Solutions (Ness Ziona, Israel).
We reached out to PurMinds’ chief strategy and financial officer, Aron Buchman, to learn more about the alliance.
PPW: How did the relationship between PurMinds and IMIO Life come about?
Aron Buchman: PurMinds and the Nextar Family have had a corporate relationship since 2019. The initial R&D focus was on PurMinds’ patented nano-extraction technology.
PurMinds CEO Janet Qi visited Nextar Chempharma at their ODEC-accredited facilities at the prestigious Weizman Science Park, Israel. Unfortunately, the collaboration between the Nextar family of companies and the PurMinds family of companies was hindered by the COVID-19 outbreak. But PurMinds is pleased to have provided the initial cornerstone investment to IMIO Life to further the alignment and capitalize on the vision and execution skills exhibited by Abraham (CEO), Orna and the chairman of the Nextage Therapeutics board, Israel Makov.
PPW: What sets the relationship apart from others exploring the therapeutic potential of psychedelics?
Buchman: This is not a collaboration; it is an equity investment in IMIO Life. Optimizing psychedelics through advancements in medicinal chemistry and pioneering new ways to deliver neurodegenerative and psychiatric results is the central focus of PurMinds’ research efforts,
PurMinds, through the investment in IMIO Life, has accelerated innovation and enabled itself to achieve true corporate global reach.
There are two factors that PurMinds felt significant in the drug-development and decision process.
- Experience and Licenses:
- a) Experience of over 15 plus years of experience taking drugs to market — over 150 novel or innovative drugs and 2400 plus projects completed. The IMIO Life investment expands its existing research infrastructure and allows for rapid scaling and de-risking of its drug development pipeline and patent strategy. This is to be achieved by leveraging the development, scale and commercial expertise of IMIO Life and the technology it has invested in. This translates in speed to market, fewer mistakes and true competitive differentiation in a sector that requires decisive accurate protected execution and puts PurMinds in a position to de-risk the steps necessary to take substances and pharmaceuticals from the early stages of pre-clinical development and analytical testing to launching scaled commercial supply. The experience we invested in includes a neurological drug that had an exit valued at over $1 billion.
- b) The IMIO Life investment gives PurMinds immediate access to the labs of Nextar Chempharma Solutions Ltd., Israel’s leading full-service, fully integrated cGMP compliant drug development and manufacturing facility, which holds ISO 13485, ISO 9001, ISO/IEC 17025 and OECD accreditations. In addition, Israel’s Ministry of Health (MOH) Pharmaceutical Administration has licensed the company. The access allows PurMinds to develop, scale and deliver psychedelic solutions, formulations and therapeutics in an FDA and EU-compliant nature immediately.
- Investing in targeted delivery, low dose, low toxicity psychedelics direct to the brain.
- The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a highly selective semipermeable border of endothelial cells that prevents solutes in the circulating blood from non-selectively crossing into the extracellular fluid of the central nervous system where neurons reside.
- The BBB protects brain tissue against foreign agents such as toxins, maintaining the proper and stable composition of the brain fluid.
- The implications and challenge the BBB provides is that high concentrations of drugs need to be administered, leading to systemic side effects and reduced efficacy due to the treatment needing to traverse the BBB.
This investment provides PurMinds access to license a mature (more than 10 plus years of development) this patentable brain-targeted nano-delivery system. The BTLS targeting system demonstrated BLTS can deliver drugs that pass through the BBB with exceptional efficacy and minimal exposure of active pharmaceutical ingredients to other organs. In addition, new IP and patents on generic and, importantly, natural molecules will be developed in collaboration with IMIO Life.
PPW: What is your take on the near-term therapeutic potential of the psychedelic biopharma sector?
Buchman: The PurMinds focus is on neurodegenerative diseases, which is one of society’s critical issues over the next 50 years, and we see the near term as having the ability to create, develop and impact diseases such as Alzheimer’s that has 10 million new cases every year at an $818 billion per year of societal cost.
PPW: What are your thoughts on the role of relatively small, privately-held companies in bringing psychedelic drug candidates to the market?
Buchman: These companies have the most significant role to play. For example, PureMinds is accelerating research and development by leveraging cutting-edge biotech and big data to de-risk and accelerate development. In addition, Purminds’ data science team harnesses big data from distinctive data sets to uncover novel drug targets and use our predictive modeling engine to provide a new approach leading into stratified medicine.
Most importantly, these small companies are unencumbered by the accumulated practices of large traditional pharma. PurMinds (along with other small privately held and publicly held mid-size companies) is creating innovative solutions focused on improving drug discovery and development to address these unmet needs. The result is accelerated results in a de-risked and accretive manner.
As our CEO Janet Qi has said: “PurMinds bridges the best of both worlds; bringing the expertise of an accelerated and differentiated drug design process through technology while addressing the manufacturing complexity of psychedelic compounds.”
Filed Under: Drug Discovery