- Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Co-Founder and Former COO of Willow Biosciences (TSX:WLLW)
- Former CEO of Stem Cell Therapeutics (Now NASDAQ/TSX:TRIL)
MagicMed Industries intends to file numerous patents to stake broad claims over the new derivative molecules contained in the Psybrary™, from which the company's partners can gain a significant competitive edge in new product development using molecules that are fully patent protected.
The initial focus of the Psybrary™ is on psilocybin, and is expected to expand to other psychedelics, including MDMA, ketamine, ibogaine, mescaline and ayahuasca.
Tell us about the MagicMed model. You are building a derivative catalogue of different psychedelic molecules- how does that work? And what value does that create for potential partners of MagicMed?
MagicMed is employing a diversified partnership model. What that means is we see ourselves as enablers of the entire sector. We are really good at creating new drug candidate psychedelic derivatives, but don't aspire to get into clinical trials ourselves. Instead we intend to enter into partnerships with multiple other product developers in the sector, both biotech and big pharma, to create bespoke molecules for each partner. The partner covers our costs and rewards our successes with additional milestone and royalty payments in the future as they advance the molecule we created for them through clinical trials and into the market. In this way we are quick to revenues and break even, while retaining blue sky upside through royalties on successfully developed pharmaceuticals. By entering into multiple partnerships we diversify the risk to get multiple shots on goal.
The Psybrary catalogue is the collection of novel psychedelic derivatives we are amassing through an industry leading combination of synthetic biology and medicinal chemistry. We anticipate filing many patents and synthesizing many new molecules, which our partner companies can screen to find their ideal drug candidate to select and advance into further development. The Psybrary we anticipate will be a highly valuable resource for our partners, as it will contain many new molecules to screen, increasing their chances of finding an ideal drug candidate, and each molecule will come with a commercially-friendly manufacturing method and have its composition patent protected. We expect this will be a big asset for our partners, and could be a big hurdle for those who don't partner with us.
How much capital will it take to develop MagicMed’s model, how soon could it start to generate revenue, and what type of revenue potential does it have?
Our business plan calls for significant Psybrary development and business partner outreach taking place over the next 6-12 months. If we are successful in adding several partners in the next 12 months, we will only require $1.5MM until revenues kick in. Our goal is to begin receiving revenues in the next 6-12 months. If we add several partners we could achieve as high as $2-3MM in the first full year of partnerships. Subsequent years go up as milestones are hit. If our partners are successful and products become commercialized, we could be looking a significant pharma royalties further down the line.
What made you personally want to get involved in supporting psychedelic drug discovery?
Like almost everybody else out there, my life and that of my family has been touched by the very illnesses and tragedies that these products hope to treat. I have had a family member commit suicide due to overwhelming anxiety, and another succumb to addiction. I also have friends and family that have struggled with various mental health issues throughout their lives, as I'm sure is true for pretty much everybody. Many of my friends are veterans (I am not) and we are all very big supporters of the numerous veterans PTSD and suicide prevention efforts going on. The psychedelic space seems to be an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to the development of numerous very beneficial new drugs to address these serious issues.
What obstacles and challenges do you think psychedelic-focused companies and researchers will need to overcome from and investment perspective?
Psychedelics as a research field has been held back because of regulatory issues compared to many other areas, so there is a real need for a lot of knowledge generation in a short period of time. Thankfully the regulatory perspective is opening up, but there are still societal biases and questions to address. This has resulted in an idiosyncratic investment paradigm in the recent time frame that I think is creating as many challenges at it is resolving. Because the science is new and mostly anecdotal, a lot of bigger, sophisticated more conservative investors are not entering the space at this time. The changing regulatory arena has spawned a large number of speculative companies, many with management teams unfamiliar with the science. Meanwhile, many folks hoping to catch a wave have piled in, creating a surge of what feels to me like quick in quick out money. I suspect that the sector may need to take a breath and let the market sort the wheat from the chaff, which could create ebbs and flows of capital. Prudent management teams are going to need to plan for this, and not be caught in a squeeze because of poor timing or lack of foresight in shaping their business plan to tolerate such market uncertainty.
What are the key differences between MagicMed and other companies focused on psychedelic research and drug discovery?
MagicMed is built from the ground up around a world recognized science team, not from the top down attempting to catch a market wave. We recognize what we are really good at, and focus on that, not on trying to do everything. Specifically, we have an innovative way of creating new psychedelic derivatives that may be excellent drug candidates. That's all we are doing. Another key differentiator is our business model. We want to enable the sector, we see everyone as potential partners, not competitors. We want to create molecules that will help everyone develop great products. Finally, our business model is laser-focused on creating major value in the form of the Psybrary and the patents protecting it, and also in arriving at cash flow break even revenues as soon as possible, thanks to our low cost R&D work and cost recovery partnership model.
You’re the founder of Willow Biosciences which is a biotechnology company working on cannabinoids. It’s public on the TSX and has done very well for shareholders. Could you tell us about what led you to found Willow, what value it creates and what lessons you learned from that venture that will apply now to MagicMed?
Willow was created in the merger and RTO-listing that occurred between BioCan and Epimeron, and Epimeron was the company I had co-founded in 2014 with my CSO Dr. Peter Facchini and COO Dr. Jill Hagel. Peter, Jill and myself have been working closely together since 2014, and in fact they are with me at MagicMed in the same roles as at Epimeron. Epimeron was created to commercialize a synthetic biology approach to manufacturing high value plant metabolites used in the pharmaceutical industry. We recognized that there was going to be a continued need to use cutting edge synthetic biology and medicinal chemistry skills to find ways to take what Nature has given us and turn it into important pharmaceutical products. Willow is continuing to do well with product development and I think it provides a shining example of the successful commercial possibilities of our approach. I wish them huge success of course in the future. What we learned from the very valuable Epimeron and Willow experiences was that one needs to take the most direct approach to commercialize the highest value products. In other words, spend the least amount of time and money to produce the most valuable end product. Science can be exciting and elegant, but at the end of the day this is about successfully making valuable and important products to help peoples lives and reward shareholders for their investment.
What kind of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies would MagicMed be the perfect partner for? What problem would you solve for them and how does that become a model that creates enormous value for everyone involved?
We are perfectly designed to partner with any biotech or pharmaceutical developer active in the psychedelic space. Right now many companies are focused on developing the existing psychedelic molecules in more of an in-clinic treatment molecule. As competition intensifies on that approach and the limits of its potential market become more obvious, we expect that many companies will begin to look for proprietary molecules and that's where we can help them. Similarly, as the sector matures and pharma starts to move in, we will have the large library that pharma needs to screen through to pick their ideal drug candidate. Ultimately, we would like to see multiple companies with promising psychedelic-derived drug candidates advancing through clinical trials for these major unmet medical needs.
Is MagicMed planning on going public? If so, what do you anticipate that timeline to look like?
We have positioned MagicMed to keep the maximum variety of market opportunities available. While we could be an acquisition target for a variety of companies, we are set up to go public as early as Q1 or Q2 of 2021. We'll need to see how our partnerships unfold over the coming 6 months or so and make a decision from there.