PreveCeutical taps into wellness industry’s fastest growing segment
By: Jason Smith
Company has four core products in its R&D pipeline
According to a 2016 report issued by the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness market reached US$3.36 trillion in 2015.
Moreover, the fastest growing segment within this market was preventive/personalized medicine and public health, which grew at a brisk 23.5 per cent clip between 2013 and 2015.
That growth potential was what attracted PreveCeutical Medical Inc. (CSE: PREV) Co-Founder and CEO Stephen Van Deventer and his partner Kim Van Deventer to the space a few years back. Determined to straddle the market between preventive medicine and nutraceuticals, Stephen and Kim trademarked the name “PreveCeutical” as the moniker for its company.
Stephen Van Deventer comments, “Medicine is becoming more tailor-made with each passing year, and we saw an opportunity to build a company founded on preventive health.”
Fast-forward to 2018, and the company has four potential blockbuster products in its research and development pipeline.
Working on a Possible Solution to the Global Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis, with its severe social and economic impacts, has been dominating the headlines recently, especially in the U.S. The toll addiction is taking on a large and growing segment of the global population is forcing policymakers to confront the issue head-on.
To address the crisis, PreveCeutical has launched a research program, led by Chief Research Officer, Harendra Parekh. This program involves multiphase research of naturally occurring peptides, which are currently being used to target an array of disease conditions, including chronic pain. Dr. Parekh heads the Drug/Gene Delivery Group at the University of Queensland’s Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence (PACE).
Van Deventer elaborates, “When you cut yourself, your brain produces a substance to relieve the pain. We’re working on a way to replicate that molecule and concentrate it to create a substance that will be stronger than morphine. You won’t be able to overdose on it, and you won’t be able to get high or get addicted to it.”
The promise of non-addictive pain relievers is keeping PreveCeutical focused on developing a product that could provide a legitimate alternative to opioids.
Sol-Gel Product Offers a Time-Release Method for CBD Delivery
While the company’s efforts in peptide research for pain relief are just getting ramped up, its Sol-gel nasal delivery method is much farther along the development curve.
With the goal of becoming the first nose-to-brain delivery system of cannabinoids (“CBDs”), PreveCeutical’s Sol-gel has the potential to become the preferred time-release platform for CBDs and other treatments. The key is a process for preparing insoluble drug-containing nano micelles and incorporating them in to Sol-gels. This work has also been led by Dr. Parekh.
“Right now, we’re focused on infusing CBDs into the gel,” said Van Deventer. “It’s possible for this nasal delivery method to deliver time-release dosing of CBDs for up to one week. This would allow patients to administer just once or twice a week.”
In addition, the bioavailability of CBDs using this method is upwards of 90-95 per cent, a big improvement over smoking (~30 per cent) and ingestion (~50 per cent).
UniQuest, the tech transfer company for the University of Queensland, reviewed the patent data for the Sol-gel product in early 2017, and the company’s Patent Review Committee approved the filing of a provisional patent.
A Dual-Gene Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity
Perhaps the most exciting research in PreveCeutical’s pipeline is its work on a dual-gene therapy for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Diabetes kills one person every six seconds globally. The World Health Organization puts the GDP cost of the disease between 2011 and 2030 at US$1.7 trillion.
PreveCeutical is working with four leading Australian research centres to co-develop a curative therapy for this devastating malady.
The company and its research partners are investigating a gene-silencing approach that targets the gene that is encoded for the protein PTP-1B. The goal is to reduce PTP-1B levels, which will, in turn, reduce the body’s capacity to store fat.
“We want to create a product that can be taken as an injectable once or twice a year that would silence that gene and prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity from developing,” says Van Deventer.
PreveCeutical is still in the early stages of a multiphase project for this dual-gene therapy. Given the growing prevalence and severity of diabetes and obesity, the end-product has the potential to be a life-saver.
A Product on the Market
Supporting the company’s research efforts is its CELLB9® Immune System Booster. This product is an oral dilute solution infused with select peptides sourced from Caribbean Blue Scorpion venom.
PreveCeutical is working on developing a scalable, nature identical compound for this scorpion venom.
“The scorpion venom product could be used for different cancer treatments,” said Van Deventer. “It attaches to abnormal cells in your body, so oncologists could use it to bio-mark those cells for removal.”
Stephen and Kim Van Deventer bring an entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge of public markets to their leadership of PreveCeutical.
The company’s Chief Science Officer is Dr. Mak Jawadekar, who spent 28 years at Pfizer, most recently acting as Director of Portfolio Management. Dr. Jawadekar was so impressed with PreveCeutical’s business model that the Van Deventers’ were able to lure him out of retirement to spearhead the company’s technical programs.
Key among Dr. Jawadekar’s contributions was connecting PreveCeutical with Dr. Parekh at the University of Queensland. Dr. Parekh is leading the company’s efforts on its Sol-gel product, its dual-gene therapy research and its peptide research on non-opioid pain relievers.
A recent addition to the team was Dr. Maher Khaled. Dr. Khaled has spent over a decade commercializing therapeutic and diagnostic technologies for the University of Queensland and the University of Cambridge. A lawyer with a PhD in Biotechnology, Dr. Khaled’s background and experience allows him to connect the medical and legal issues involved in moving PreveCeutical’s projects forward.
Together, this team looks well suited to the task of developing and commercializing the products it has in its R&D pipeline. According to Stephen Van Deventer, the company has pending news about one of these products and may begin work on a new product or two this year as well.
Given the big problems PreveCeutical is seeking to address, the wellness market will definitely be staying tuned for those announcements.