By Robert Kraft
biOasis Technologies Inc. (TSX-V: BTI) (OTCQX: BIOAF) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain tissue. The company is seeking to address these unmet medical needs with its proprietary Transcend Platform.
The other day, I came across biOasis’ press release discussing recent developments in the testing of the company’s platform medical technology. I decided to contact the company and spoke with Rob Hutchinson, CEO of biOasis Technologies Inc. to talk about the news, as well as to better understand why the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, “represent the single greatest challenge in the treatment of over a thousand common and rare diseases of the central nervous system.”
Stock News Now: Rob, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s been a while since we interviewed you last (SEE HERE). Let’s start with an overview of biOasis Technologies.
RH: biOasis is focused on the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and into the brain tissue. The delivery of therapeutics across the BBB represents the single greatest challenge in the treatment of over a thousand common and rare diseases of the central nervous system. biOasis is seeking to address these unmet medical needs with its proprietary Transcend Platform. Located in Vancouver, Canada, biOasis is a publicly-traded company on the OTCQX under the symbol BIOAF and on the TSX Venture Exchange under BTI.
Stock News Now: Can you explain the history behind biOasis’ proprietary technology?
RH: The technology was discovered by our founding Scientist Dr. Wilfred Jefferies in the 1990s and was later patented by the University of British Columbia. I was introduced to the technology in 2007 by Dr. Jefferies and after stringent evaluation of the technology’s potential, I decided to take the technology to market, forming a public company called biOasis in 2008, and the Transcend Platform was born.
Stock News Now: Why is the delivery of therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier, “represent the single greatest challenge in the treatment of over a thousand common and rare diseases of the central nervous system,” as it states on your website?
RH: Over 1 billion people currently suffer from some sort of central nervous system disease, which is roughly 1 in 6 people worldwide and this number is expected to increase. One of the major issues in treating these diseases is that therapeutics cannot reach the brain at quantities that’s effective for treatment. This is because the brain is protected by what’s known as “the blood brain barrier,” which blocks about 98% of small molecule drugs and 100% of larger molecule drugs from entering into the brain tissue. By passing this barrier has been considered the Holy Grail of neurological medicine for decades. There is currently no effective method to deliver therapeutics to the brain to treat brain diseases and disorders so that’s the issue biOasis’ Transcend Platform aims to address.
Stock News Now: How does the company intend to solve this problem?
RH: Our Transcend platform is based on a natural human protein called melanotransferrin (MTf) that’s role within the body is to deliver nutrients to the brain. This protein freely crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) via receptors found on the surface of the BBB. This process is referred to as Receptor Mediated Transcytosis (RMT). It was discovered that, since MTf could carry nutrients across the BBB, we could link other compounds such as small molecule drugs, imaging compounds and biological agents such as enzymes, antibodies and siRNA to this protein to effectively deliver them into the brain at levels that was effective for treatment. By linking pre-existing/pre-clinical drugs to MTf, we can deliver these drugs across the BBB and into the brain to overcome this large issue in the brain-drug delivery space.
Stock News Now: What diseases of the central nervous system is biOasis currently targeting?
RH: To be clear, biOasis’ Transcend Platform does not treat any specific disease. We are a carrier platform; our technology carries drugs to the brain. We partner with pharmaceutical companies to deliver their pre-clinical/pre-existing drugs to the brain. We can target any pharmaceutical industry segment that has interest in delivering their drugs to the brain. For example, we focus on the central nervous system disease drug space; specially, metastatic brain cancers, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, metabolic and rare diseases such as lysosomal storage diseases and the new and emerging area of siRNA (gene-silencing therapies). We could even target such markets as stroke and traumatic brain injury, pain and migraine, psychiatry and even infectious disease, wherever there is a need for greater brain-drug delivery. The possibilities are endless.
Stock News Now: On March 16th, 2015, the company announced, “biOasis Releases Results From an Ischemic Stroke Model with Transcend BBB carrier peptide (MTfp): MTfp-‐siRNA Reduces Both the Damage Caused By Infarct and Significantly Improves Neurological Score.” What does this mean and how does this affect the company?
RH: This news release revealed that biOasis has been the first company to effectively deliver a siRNA to the brain. Some diseases have been associated with the over-expression of particular genes; siRNA can knock down specific genes, that are associated with these diseases, to a normal level. This could potentially eradicate the disease or prevent any further degradation. In July 25, 2014, biOasis announced that the Transcend platform could deliver siRNA to the brain and knock down the target gene by 40-50% (desirable range). This release from March 16, 2015 in a more extensive study showing that we not only delivered siRNA to the brain in a stroke model but we were able to reduce infraction (damage) in the brain, meaning the siRNA got to the brain at levels that was effective to treat stroke-enduced mice. The results of this study offer major opportunities to new and emerging companies in the area of siRNA gene silencing therapies.
Stock News Now: Where does the science derive from and what are the scientists’ backgrounds?
RH: As mentioned, Dr. Jefferies was the founding scientist of this technology. While doing his PhD at Oxford University, Dr. Jefferies made a pioneering discovery that lead the entire drug delivery industry to consider using biological agents to transport drugs to the brain to overcome this large unmet medical need, which is now the major strategy of all delivery technologies to the brain. Our leading scientist, Dr. Reinhard Gabathuler, a recognized expert on the Blood Brain-Barrier, worked on the technology at Dr. Jefferies lab at University of British Columbia in the 1990s and after being the Vice-President of Brain Research at BioMarin and Chief Scientific Officer at AngioChem, Dr. Reinhard came back to work on Transcend knowing both the effectiveness and potential of this technology.
Stock News Now: What’s in store for biOasis in 2015?
RH: We have 5 programs in the pipeline for 2015. We’ll be conducting studies to show that the newly discovered peptide, which is the portion of MTf that’s responsible for the crossing effect, is as effective if not more than the full length protein (original discovery). We’ll be doing a metastatic breast cancer to brain study, 2 lysosomal storage disease studies, one of which is a research collaboration with Brains for Brain foundation out of Italy lead by lysosomal disease clinical expert Dr. Maurizio Scarp and 2 siRNA gene silencing studies, one of which was announced Monday, March 16th. We will continue our licensing agreement with MedImmune and continue our discussions with other large pharmaceutical companies on potential licencing deals, which gives the company an opportunity for near term revenue. There are many announcements to be made this year and we plan on achieving significant milestones, capitalizing on the long success of this technology and enhancing shareholder value.
For more information about biOasis Technologies, go to: www.bioasis.ca
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