True Story: I fell in love with biOasis at a speed dating event.
It was, of course, speed dating for investors. Fifteen minutes with a company. Meet the CEO, hear the pitch, shake hands and move onto the next table.
Days can last an eternity when broken down into 15 minute increments. After a morning of hearing how each company was on the inflection point for serious profits (they weren’t), or how the land they owned contained the next Klondike (it doesn’t), I was certainly looking forward to happy hour. Then, lightning struck.
My meeting Rob Hutchison, the biOasis CEO, didn’t start out hot. I am a self-proclaimed novice when it comes to biotech. Seriously, without a doctorate, how can anyone expect to understand if certain molecules will be worth billions of dollars, or just make expensive urine? I typically just avoid biotech because there is a unique hurdle to success in this space called the FDA. This makes it a very binary space and one that I don’t usually feel qualified to evaluate on a risk/reward basis.
That being said, I sat down with Rob thinking that fifteen minutes isn’t too long and I would try to make the most of it. He explained the history of the company and the target diseases that they were focused on. Being a complete novice, I asked Rob to really dumb down his presentation for me. Basically, give me the elevator pitch and let me try to get my head around it. Thankfully, he did so and I managed to get the gist of it. Well, it was more like a light bulb went off in my head. Which is how we approached the end of fifteen minutes with this being the conversation.
Me: So, you’re saying that there are many existing drugs that can’t cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) effectively.
Me: And, you can take an existing peptide, one that naturally crosses the BBB, attach it to these drug molecules and dramatically increase their penetration over the BBB.
Me: And, these drugs are already FDA approved and your reformulation wouldn’t require full FDA trials for approval.
Me: And, these major pharma companies would extend their patent life and receive approval for new indications with the reformulation.
Me: For which, they could potentially pay you a large up-front fee and ongoing royalties on $1B plus drugs.
Me: Holy s***.
That’s how the fifteen-minutes of speed dating ended, but that was just the beginning of my interaction with Rob. I pursued him like a shark at dinner, insisting I sit next to him and learning more about the genesis of the company, his background…whatever I could glean. By the end of the night, I was irreversibly hooked on biOasis.
What does biOasis do?
In a nutshell, biOasis attaches their discovered human peptide (they call it Transcend) to existing drugs, which enables them to cross the blood brain barrier, a heretofore impenetrable wall that protects the brain from the nasty toxin circulating throughout our bodies. The BBB is like an internal version of St. Peter at the Holy Gates. It keeps out the impure, letting through only the nutrients, proteins, etc. that are necessary for the brain. In doing so, the BBB denies access to most medications, not aware that they may be helpful in curing internal issues within the brain such as cancer, alzheimers, parkinsons, etc.
In more technical terms, the BBB “limits the free diffusion of polar solutes allowing only particles with a diameter less than 20 nm to cross to the brain. In addition, it expresses a wide variety of active efflux transporters that further restrict drug access to the brain. Furthermore, the endothelial cells within the BBB are equipped with a limited array of transport systems that supply the brain with nutrients, but also eliminate byproducts of brain metabolism. Taken together, these characteristics provide an effective protective shield against not only the high-molecular weight agents, but also small molecules.” – Hamdy Azim, Hatem Azim, Future Oncology
Thus, by blocking out high-molecular weight agents and small molecules, the blood brain barrier effectively denies access to most medications for diseases affecting the brain. However, it does allow passage to the particles necessary for life. It is this ability of the BBB to differentiate particles that has confounded scientists for years. It is also the key to biOasis’ transformational drug delivery system.
“biOasis Technologies Inc. has developed and is now commercializing a ground-breaking platform for the delivery of therapeutic compounds across the blood-brain barrier and into the Central Nervous System for the treatment of neurological diseases, including, but not limited to brain cancers, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. With the ability to transport therapeutics of almost any type and size across the blood-brain barrier, the Transcend Platform is now being licensed to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies for the advancement of their neurotherapeutic programs.” ~ bioasis.ca
Okay, realizing that the reader of this article, like me, is probably not a doctor, let me recap. First, getting drugs across the BBB is the holy grail for brain disease treatment. Second, no one has ever managed to do this. Third, biOasis claims they can.