biOasis Technologies, Inc.
Chairman, President, and CEO: Rob Hutchison
About: biOasis Technologies Inc. (TSX-V:BTI) is a publically traded biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing proprietary pharmaceutical products and diagnostic technologies for central nervous system (“CNS”) diseases and disorders. Of particular interest is the creation of therapeutic options for patient management to address the limitations to biodistribution presented by the properties of the blood-brain barrier (“BBB”).
WSA: Good day from Wall Street. This is Juan Costello, senior analyst of the Wall Street Analyzer. Joining us today is Rob Hutchison, CEO, President and Chairman for biOasis Technologies. The company trades on the TSX Venture, ticker symbol BTI and now in the OTCQX, ticker symbol BIOAF. Thanks for joining us today, Rob.
Rob Hutchison: Oh, you are very welcome. Thanks very much for having me.
WSA: Any time, now starting off please give us a history and overview of the company for some of our listeners who are new your story.
Rob Hutchison: Sure, biOasis is fairly simple story to tell it. It’s really what we’re all about is we’re about the delivery of therapeutic compounds or drugs across the blood-brain barrier and getting them into the brain tissue. The blood-brain barrier has stymied medical science for years and years with respect to treating neurological or brain conditions, brain diseases and although we have tremendous therapeutics that are now very effective in treating, you know, cancers, for example in the periphery, throughout the body, but when those cancers start to take hold in the brain it basically becomes an impossible feat to be able to get those therapeutic compounds into the brain tissues and treat those cancer cells. So that’s what we’re doing. We’ve been embarking on this now since 2008 and we’ve had tremendous success. We’ve been able to identify essentially a protein or a small peptide that currently exists in everybody’s bodies. So it’s not something that we’re created in the laboratory to do this. We’re actually taking the body’s own systems and our physiological or biological system that currently exists in your body today and we’re using it like a Trojan Horse to effectively link therapeutic compounds that are normally blocked by that blood-brain barrier to facilitate them in crossing across the blood-brain barrier and starting to get into the brain tissue. So although very elegant in its design, it’s relatively simplistic and part of the thing is many of neurologists who said to us is the elegance of our solution is the simplicity of it–the fact that we’re using a preexisting physiological or biological process in the body. So you’re not trying to fool the body. You’re not trying to introduce something that is foreign to the body. As a matter of fact, it’s in your body. So it’s quite elegant from that perspective.
WSA: Good, good. And so yeah can you talk about some of the recent quantitative results.
Rob Hutchison: Yeah we’ve been making tremendous, tremendous ground or headway I guess is the word I would use over the past number of years. Specifically in the area of oncology, we’ve delivered a therapeutic compound called Herceptin which is used to treat HER-2 positive breast cancer that men and women get, mostly women, and unfortunately in the very high incidents rates, so those patients that get HER-2 positive breast cancer, about 30% to 40% of those patients end up developing brain tumors–essentially the cancer goes from the breast to the brain and it’s very difficult and Herceptin can’t get across. So we’ve shown in tests that were done at Texas Tech University under world-renowned Dr. Quentin Smith and Dr. Paul Lockman. We showed that we could actually deliver Herceptin and get it across the blood-brain barrier and then only in four treatments we reduced the number of metastasis or tumors in the brain of the subject animals by 68 percent, which was very dramatic. And the other thing we did was we showed the tumors that were left were 58% smaller in volume, in other words, it was having a therapeutic effect and was shrinking those. So in area of oncology, we had some tremendous success in these preclinical studies. Most recently as well we’ve been able to show that we can deliver what’s called siRNA. And siRNA is designed to knockdown or to as they call it – or to suppress overactive genes and in a lot of the cases with patients that are suffering from all things from Lou Gehrig’s disease to multiple sclerosis, potentially Alzheimer’s, a whole host of those autoimmune diseases have over-expressing genes as the cause. So the ability to be able to knockdown or to reduce or slow or calm the overactive genes would be potentially thought of as a tremendous treatment for lot of those conditions. So recent but there again siRNA has been very successful in the periphery treating a lot of peripheral issues, but they can’t get into the brain because they just don’t cross the blood-brain barrier. So we showed very recently, that we could actually deliver siRNA across the blood-brain barrier and that when it got into the brain it actually reduced the over activity of the gene–In this case, it ultimately reduced it between 40% to 50%. So the lowest subject animal that was tested was about 40% and the highest was 50%. So you don’t want to knock the gene down to zero. That’s not the objective, but the objective of it is to take this overactive over-expressing gene and to reduce it down by you know 50%, 60%, 70%. So this was tremendous data that we just discovered and there again opens an opportunity for a lot of those neurological conditions that are thought to be a root cause of over expressing genes to be able to treat those. So that was fairly exciting. We were very pleased indeed. We could show broad utility, and we’ve shown in other therapeutic cases too as well the delivery of other compounds. So we’re realizing that there is a very broad application for this technology and potentially well in excess of currently about 100-plus drugs that already exist, that already have been approved for use in humans by the FDA and other jurisdictions, but, of course, they’ve never been able to get into the brain, so they haven’t been able to look for potential targeting of that. So we’re seeing that the landscape for the opportunity for this technology is very broad and very vast.
WSA: Good, good, very exciting. And so in terms of some of the current trends in your sector, how are you positioning the company to capitalize on them with opportunities such as your agreement with MedImmune.
Rob Hutchison: Yeah, I think the major thing we want to do is that we want to look at the broadest application for a technology which means the broadest number of pharmaceutical companies, and there is no question that the pharma companies, they have been puzzled and challenged with how do they broaden their intellectual property, how do they broaden their drugs, how do they increase or how can they use their drugs for new indications. And of course, opening the brain up to them is a tremendous opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to take already preexisting drugs that they spent potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on development and finding a brand new application for them. So in the case of Herceptin you know, for example, in Roche it’s a $6 billion a year drug and when they lose patent protection, all of a sudden that revenue stream goes down dramatically but if they can find a brand new application for that drug they don’t have to go and reinvent or spend a lot of expenses in the development of the drug because they’ve already done that and now they’ve found a brand new application for it. So the Pharma industry as a whole is very excited about the opportunities of taking their preexisting therapeutic and potentially new therapeutics and broadening those into the market.
The market is burgeoning. It’s about a $100 billion a year market right now as it exists and if there actually was a capability of being able to deliver those therapeutics, that number would go up dramatically which of course excites the whole market and the industry. We position ourselves against our competition in the fact that we’re the only company that is doing this. There probably are about 10 companies around the globe that are actively pursuing the use of their vectors as they call it their technology, but we’re the only company that is using a naturally occurring biological or physiological function. So we see ourselves quite different that being quite a substantive differentiator because we’re not looking at toxicity issues. The toxicity issues are already dealt within the fact. So we also think there is tremendous opportunity for all of these companies, and we don’t expect it to be the all to end all, but we do believe that our technology is very applicable for a large biologic compound which we have shown some extremely good positive results, and some of our competitors out there have been very successful in delivering small molecule drugs. So we think we’ve been able differentiate ourselves away from the competition, away from the market by finding very broad utility in an area that has been challenging for our competitors to be able to enter into. So we think that’s a significant differentiator between us and the competition.
WSA: Great, and so can you walk us through your background and experience Rob and talk a little bit about the management team behind the scenes?
Rob Hutchison: Sure, my background really is in intellectually property. I hold about 36 or 37 patents now that I have done over the years and really from my perspective I look at all of these things quite similarly, in the case of technology, for example where a lot of my patents were generated, it’s very similar to the pharmaceutical industry. It’s all about protecting landscape, protecting the ability to be able to protect the assets of the company. And since we’re embarking down what I would consider to be a licensing model where we will license our technology to pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies that will utilize our technology, the value for us is really in those assets and that asset being our intellectual property. So I have spent many, many years working on developing patent strategies you know how do you extend your patent portfolio, how do you protect your patent portfolio. So that’s really although being a technologist by you know previous life, really the focus of this for me is to be able to focus on creating the asset value which creates the value for the shareholders and protects the shareholders and obviously gets the greatest lift for those shareholders who have been invested in our company.
We have a very strong scientific team, and Dr. Wilfred Jefferies who’s the scientific founder and Professor Emeritus at University of British Columbia in Canada, he is thought to be one of the fore founders of this whole industry. His Ph.D. that he obtained from Oxford University was all around the first – he developed the first monoclonal antibody called OX-26 that targeted the transferrin receptor in the brain to see to potential transport. So a lot of the companies that exist today even our competitors based a lot of their work and lot of their work is based upon Dr. Jefferies’ Ph.D. work and the work he’s done in the field. And he discovered back in 1992 this protein or this physiological biological process that I described earlier. He discovered that and he said now that’s the secret because now we can work off of something that preexists in the body and we’re not to trying to do something different, and he continues to be very active with the company, designing scientific programs for us. Dr. Reinhard Gabathuler who worked in Will’s lab with Will in fact at University of British Columbia on the team that discovered this technology, he is our chief scientist and Gaba, as we like to call him, is thought of to be an expert there again by the industry in the industry of blood-brain barrier transport. Dr. Chris Fibiger formerly the head of Neuroscience for Amgen and the former head of neuroscience for Eli Lilly, he is on our board of directors, and he works with us regularly to assist us in the mapping of our technology, and certainly from those positions he’s held before, he certainly understands the problem, he understands the issues, and he recognized when I introduced this technology to him, he said this makes a lot of sense. This I think has an opportunity for success, and this is something that I personally and professionally would like to be working with. And Greg Gubitz, our former head of the general counsel for a company called Biovail, well-known pharmaceutical in Canada, Greg was also the global international business development manager for that company too as well, so on the business side Greg and I work very closely together in designing the business strategies for the company moving it forward. And we have a number of scientists, I won’t go through them all, that are working for the company, that have all worked around this technology for the better part of about 10 years, so strong scientific group, experts in their own right, leaders in the field, and we think that we’ve been able to amass a management team and a whole team including the scientific team that is best positioned to take technology such as this forward and ensure success.
WSA: Excellent and what are some of the key goals and milestones that you guys are hoping to accomplish over the course of the next year.
Rob Hutchison: Well, we’ve done a number of collaborations already with large top-tier pharmaceutical companies and I see us entering a number of those in the coming months. I also believe that our technology has matured to the point now that we will see additional licensing agreements such as we saw with licensing of our technology to MedImmune, which is an AstraZeneca company. I see us advancing our siRNA program forward quite dramatically over the next four to six months. I see us we are about to commence some very extensive study work in what we consider to be the gold standard with respect of area of Lysosomal storage disease which is the delivery of enzymes into the brain which treats a number of diseases, MPS II for example, for Hunter syndrome that children get very early on in life. So we see that program advancing significantly forward in the next four to eight to twelve month period. We’ve discovered some new technologies from that intellectual property so I think we’ll be broadening our intellectual property portfolio. But I think what we will see is we’ll see a significant interest from the industry as a whole in the fact that we’re now being able to prove solidly and get very significant preclinical data and moving some of these program and potentially we’ll be filing INDs to move some of these technologies in the area of the siRNA and Lysosomal storage and probably oncology too as well into the clinic and start doing clinical trials. So I think a lot of the work that’s been done from 2009 to 2010 to date has been really to validate the technology, independent validation of the technology, build a solid core intellectual property, and I think we are there now and I think that the next twelve months will be a significant proving ground for the company and I think taking this technology and putting to the hands of the pharma companies that can start to develop these and has potential therapeutics for human.
WSA: And when it comes to investors and the financial community, Rob, do you believe that the biOasis story, your message, and the companies’ upside are completely understood and appreciated by them, and if not, what do you wish investors better understood about the company?
Rob Hutchison: Well, I think when it comes to pharmaceutical and biotech and biopharmaceutical companies, they are misread in a number of places where they believe that the company is going to have to raise a couple of $100 million and 10 years later we might have a success in the clinic, but there’s a lot of risk associated to that and that’s the reason why a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the big pharma companies. But we’re really a platform technology. We’re really just simply taking something that I mentioned a couple of times that preexists in the body and taking that and sort of Trojan Horsing it so to speak and taking something on which is really a platform technology. So the opportunity for that to move itself into a clinic is probably going to be taken on by the big pharmaceutical companies, but they will license our technology ahead. So we are not one of those, “Well give us $100 million and we’ll go into the lab and screw your way into the sort over the next 10 years and hopefully at the end come forward with something.” Our near-term goals are very quick and very short and I think that’s something that I think would excite the average investor.
WSA: Well, good, and so once again joining us today is Rob Hutchison, the CEO, President Chair of biOasis Technologies. The company trades on the TSX Venture, ticker symbol BPI as well as on the OTCQX, ticker symbol BIOAF, trading at 1.11 a share, market cap is north of $46 million, and before we conclude here Rob to briefly recap some of your key points, why do you believe investors should consider the company as a good investment opportunity today?
Rob Hutchison: Well, I think our market valuation is quite honestly–the potential opportunity is very low, so I think from that perspective there is potentially significant upside. I think that we have certainly showed and we certainly know over the last number of years we’ve been able to de-risk the opportunity. And I think we’ve now shown that we can deliver these therapeutics and reach [-; levels or therapeutic levels. So I think that was a major related issue that I think has now de-risked the opportunity for shareholders. And I think once people understand the opportunity and see these opportunities and may see the big pharma companies such as MedImmune taking a license, it extremely validates our technology and I think that in itself when it’s understood and it’s recognized out there, I think potentially those shareholders will see an opportunity to see significant potential profit and gain.
WSA: Well, we certainly look forward of continue to attract the company’s growth and report on your upcoming progress and we would like to thank you for taking time to join us today Rob and update on rest of our audience on BTI.
Rob Hutchison: Well, thank you very much for having me.