InMed President and CEO Eric Adams on the Future of Treating Disease with Cannabinoids
InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CNSX:IN) (OTCMKTS:IMLFF) (FRA:MWG2) performs research on extracted and purified cannabinoids to treat severe disease. President and CEO Eric Adams talks to James about the Canadian cannabinoid market, patenting, and their research on oils to treat a rare skin disorder often first seen on children.
James West: Eric, thanks for joining me today.
Eric Adams: Thanks for having me.
James West: Eric, why don’t you give me an overview: what is it that InMed does?
Eric Adams: Well, InMed is a pharmaceutical company that works with a class of compounds called cannabinoids. These are a type of compound that’s typically found in nature in the cannabis plant. There are over 90 different cannabinoids, different drugs, in the cannabis plant, and what we do is, we work with purified versions of those drugs and we apply those to severe medical conditions to treat human disease.
James West: Okay. So when you talk about 90 different cannabinoids, you’re talking about not just the run-of-the-mill CBD and THC obviously; you’re talking about sort of the substructure compounds like CBGs and all of those things?
Eric Adams: Exactly. So when you extract all of these drugs out of the cannabis plant, the vast majority of what you get is THC and CBD. And those are important, because they have many physiological effects in the human body, and they can be used to treat diseases. But there’s all these other ones there that are mostly un-researched, and that’s what we do, is try to identify where those drugs are likely to have an important effect.
We don’t work with THC, even though it does do a lot of interesting things. What we’ve found from our research is that wherever you can use THC, there’s probably a better cannabinoid that not only will be effective in treating a disease, but it doesn’t have any psychoactivity side effects. So you know, we’re looking to avoid those as much as possible, so we don’t even use THC in any of our research.
James West: I see. So you’re very much embracing the philosophy that the greatest promise of the cannabis revolution lies in its medical potential?
Eric Adams: Absolutely, yeah. So we don’t grow anything, you don’t smoke any of our products; we are a truly biopharmaceutical company, and all of our drugs will be tested out in very extensive clinical trials and will undergo review by the regulatory authorities prior to being approved.
James West: And so, I know what the regulatory climate is like in the U.S., thanks to Jeff Sessions. But I’m curious as to how receptive is Canada to these novel compounds and novel extracts in terms of their application for, I guess, a full range of potential human ailments?
Eric Adams: Yeah, well, Canada is actually the world leader when it comes to cannabinoid medicine. It was the first jurisdiction where a cannabinoid-based medicine was approved; a product called Sativex, from GW Pharma, which is a combination of THC and CBD, and it was the first jurisdiction worldwide to approve that product. And of course, you know, we’re very familiar with the legislation and the changing of the laws here that will legalize marijuana on July 1st of next year.
So I think all of those just indicate that this is a place where it’s a very open-minded, and there’s a very advanced understanding and realization that there’s a tremendous amount of potential of these drugs that typically come from the cannabis plant, to treat a wide range of medical conditions in the human body.
So we’re very fortunate to be here and operating underneath the guidelines that are in place here, and I think a lot of the other jurisdictions around the world, be it Europe or Australia or Israel or even the U.S., are going to start to come around and understand the importance of these compounds.
James West: Right. So why don’t you talk about an example? I mean, everybody’s heard about the miraculous effect of CBD oil on juvenile epilepsy, and we’re starting to hear more sort of anecdotal evidence about its calming effect for those suffering from PTSD. But what are some of the things that you guys are looking at that probably aren’t so well known?
Eric Adams: Well, our lead compound, INM750, as we call it internally, is for a rare genetic skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa. And you may have heard of it referred to as butterfly children, where the skin is very fragile, and just the slightest friction can cause blistering or tearing and open wounds on these kids. What we’ve found in our early research is that a combination of cannabinoids can be applied as a cream and treat five of the key symptoms of this disease, which is, accelerating the wound healing; reducing pain, itch and inflammation; and also acting as an antibacterial agent.
So, from a symptomology standpoint, we think this is one product that can do the work of five that may currently be used to treat the symptoms of this disease.
Now, there’s a much bigger upside here in patient care, and that is that these cannabinoids can actually regulate proteins in the skin called keratins, and if we can do that successfully, we may actually be able to reverse the disease progression in specific sub-types of these patients. That’s not ever been seen before.
That’s just an example of where these compounds can have an incredible medical benefit to a rare disease.
A lot of people know of the effects of smoking cannabis to reduce the intra-ocular pressure associated with glaucoma, so that’s another area that we’re looking at. We have found a combination of cannabinoids that we can apply as an eye drop to treat glaucoma. There’s a lot of advantages to doing it this way, but the biggest advantage is, you don’t have to smoke marijuana. You don’t have to deal with the psycho-activity of it; you just treat the disease at the disease side, without having drugs circulating through the body. Glaucoma is on our radar screen.
And then of course, there’s a lot of pain applications. So we’re looking at applying a cream to localized pain that may be pretty severe, and being able to reduce pain in different types of patients.
We’ve looked at a number of other things: we’ve looked at lung diseases, we’ve looked at Huntington’s disease, we’ve looked at different types of cancers, and you know, we’re astounded by the effects that we’re seeing in these different early-stage studies, and we’re very hopeful for what we can continue to do with these compounds.
James West: Sure. I’m curious as to, where from you sit, how rapidly is the acceptance in the broader medical community progressing in terms of CBDs and cannabinoids as legitimate medicines? I mean, as recently as a year ago, the head of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons was stating that the policy of that body is that they do not recommend any of their members prescribe marijuana for anything.
Eric Adams: Absolutely, but yeah, you have to understand, that’s the role of the physician. The role of the physician is to take the best available data, looking at any specific treatment for his patient, and understand the pros and the cons, understand the effects and the unwanted side effects, and then to make the best decision. So in the lack of any well-run clinical trials, where you know, statistically you can show a benefit and that you fully understand the side effect profile, no physician is going to prescribe it – and probably nor should they.
So that’s kind of where we come in, is we’re actually conducting those very rigorous clinical trials in order to better inform the physician populations about what this medicine will and will not do, and it doesn’t have to be based on anecdotal evidence or stories; we’ll actually have the data that will support what we’re saying.
It’s not surprising that a body of physicians would put out that kind of statement. That’s what they do all the time; they wait for the data to support a decision one way or the other.
James West: Doctor No. Okay, so the products that you create – is there intellectual property associated with those? Can you patent your formulations?
Eric Adams: Absolutely. So the way patents work is, you can’t actually patent something that already exists in nature, so the individual cannabinoids themselves can’t be patented; anyone can use those. But what we do is, we find novel and unique combinations that have dual mechanisms of action to treat any specific disease. So the combination of different cannabinoids, the type of formulation that you use to deliver it to the diseased tissue, as well as the target disease itself: those are all areas where you can establish patents in this business.
James West: Mm-hmm. So have you filed any patents at this point?
Eric Adams: We have. We have several that we’ve filed, we have several more on the way. We’ll be very active in that area in the next several months, protecting all aspects of the business that we’re building here.
James West: Okay, that’s great. Eric, what is the timeline until InMed becomes a profitable entity, in your opinion?
Eric Adams: Well, you know, biotech companies typically exist for a long period of time prior to any revenue generation. So we’re squarely in that area. We will be entering human clinical trials within a year, and from there, we’ll have to see how long it takes to recruit the patient populations that we need. We would anticipate that our first product could be commercially available in probably a matter of three or four years, but there’s a lot to be figured out between now and then.
In terms of when we’d be profitable, well, we can generate revenues in a different way: we can license our product out to other companies, we can form partnerships, and at some point, we have a method internally to biosynthesize these cannabinoids. So we don’t actually do anything at all with the plant; what we do is, we start with the plant’s DNA and we use that in a fermentation process to essentially grow these cannabinoids in a laboratory setting.
So that business eventually could be a supplier to the rest of the industry, not only the pharmaceutical industry, but the neutraceutical or the recreational market as well, as a raw material for their product. So that business is a lot closer to revenue generation than, perhaps, the actual drug development pipeline is.
James West: Sure. So that’s interesting, so really, your company should be considered in the light of more or less a pure life sciences, drug development platform with a cannabis angle, as opposed to a cannabis company dabbling in life sciences.
Eric Adams: Oh, absolutely. We don’t have anything at all to do with the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant is just one source in nature where there’s an abundance of these different molecules, these different chemicals. These chemicals can be found everywhere. I mean, the human body has a number of cannabinoids that it naturally produces. Other plants, other insects, they produce cannabinoids as well. But we’ve learned so much from the cannabis plant, and that’s kind of our starting point from a database perspective. It’s shown us these 90, and we’re now looking at all of these 90, and we’ll be able to produce all of these 90 in a laboratory setting without having to grow anything or harvest anything.
James West: Right. What’s your background?
Eric Adams: Well, I actually have a degree in chemistry, which I then followed on with a degree in international business, and straight out of there, I went into the pharmaceutical and biotech sector. I’ve lived around the world, working for different companies, and have been in Vancouver about 20 years now, having been recruited here to join a company called QLT, which used to be Canada’s largest biotech company. And I just stayed here in the area, I fostered a lot of new technologies and innovations, and I have worked with a lot of CEOs, mentoring them in the start-up process.
But when I learned about InMed about a year ago and saw the technology and just the huge potential for this field, I had to get involved with them. I jumped in with both feet. It’s just been a whirlwind ever since.
James West: Wow. That’s fantastic. Well, that’s a great introductory interview. We’re going to leave it there for now, Eric, but I’m going to come back to you in a couple quarters’ time and see how you’re progressing. This is fascinating. Thank you so much for your time today!
Eric Adams: Well I appreciate it, and I look forward to following up with you later on.
James West: You bet. We’ll talk soon. Thank you.
Eric Adams: Thank you.
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