At PSYCH Symposium Biomind Labs announced it was relocating from Toronto to Cambridge, recognising the opportunities in Europe’s emerging psychedelic healthcare market.
The UK is home to world leading research organisations and academic institutions, with Biomind Labs working closely with Cambridge University.
PSYCH was fortunate enough to speak with Biomind Labs’ CEO Alejandro Antalich ahead of the seminal event on Wednesday 11 May, for exclusive insight on the company’s strategic relocation.
‘Since I arrived only good things have happened,’ beamed Antalich. ‘Once in the Cambridge University ecosystem the opportunities and doors that open up are just amazing.
‘I have been in Life Sciences most of my life, studying chemistry at university and after that working in the pharmaceutical industry.
‘It has become a passion, creating solutions that help people by alleviating diseases. The pleasure of helping people is one of the greatest feelings a human can experience.
‘I believe we need to do something disruptive in our lives to really make a change and I saw an opportunity with medicinal cannabis. In 2017 I was CEO of ICC Labs and we became the first company in the world to start selling cannabis to a federal government.
‘We really helped change how government and regulatory authorities viewed the medicine and destigmatised the space. We finally sold the company to one of the giants within the Canadian cannabis industry in a multi million dollar transaction.
‘From there you think okay, what is next?’ explained Antalich. ‘There is a tremendous opportunity to help the billion people who suffer from a mental health disorder.’
‘We created Biomind Labs to solve this problem and navigate these troubled waters with controlled substances, a project that we take very seriously.’
PSYCH champions Europe’s psychedelic ecosystem and was interested in the motivations behind the move to Cambridge.
‘When we looked at the UK’s ecosystem we analysed different places within the Golden Triangle – London, Oxford and Cambridge.
‘We have several projects with Cambridge University, so setting up there made sense, but we are also in conversations with Queen’s University and King’s College London, which means our collaborations could span the whole of the United Kingdom.
‘The MHRA, similar to the FDA, had fast-tracked studies with novel drugs and when you summarise all the benefits the UK offers a life sciences company like ours, they become tremendous opportunities.’
‘We are in a challenging situation where we need to convince authorities and regulators on the efficacy of disruptive treatments. Thankfully last year Boris Johnson recognised the need, and said he’d support a psychedelic molecule rescheduling to treat mental health conditions.
‘At Biomind Labs we have expertise working with regulators, government authorities and financial institutions – which is very important as drug development is an expensive process.’
Biomind Labs has a number of patented compounds and delivery technologies in its commercial pipeline. PSYCH asked Antalich for insight on the company’s approach to drug development.
‘We are looking at the bigger picture at Biomind Labs, not just a small niche of the market.
‘The scale of the mental health crisis is so big that our objective is to provide definitive solutions to as many patients as we can. This means we need to democratise access to these drugs globally.
‘If we create a solution that only a few people can use, it will have been in vain. So, ensuring affordability is a core pillar of our organisation. To provide affordable psychedelic medicines, you need to provide treatments with a short duration.
‘Otherwise, they will be too costly for patients and crucially too costly for insurers, who would rather spend money on SSRIs rather than expensive novel treatments.
‘The key is fast-acting tryptamines, which is why we started to explore DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. At the moment we are running two clinical trials with DMT, one with an intramuscular route of administration and the other through inhalation.
‘With psilocybin, treatments can last six hours, and with LSD they can last as long as ten. With two psychiatrists or psychologists needed to guide you through the experience, these treatments become prohibitively expensive.
‘With intramuscular DMT we are targeting an experience under an hour, and with inhalation between just 10 and 15 minutes. When combined with integration, these interventions could be delivered in one hour and patients under remission within two or three interventions.
We have protected these innovations with a robust IP strategy around our drug delivery technologies. If we are treating people with mental health disorders, improving their quality of life and comfort is of paramount importance, so route of administration is key.
‘This is where our expertise and IP resides, combining tryptamines with routes of administration and mental health conditions. We don’t just have one molecule in our portfolio, we have three, and we’re not just targeting one condition – we are targeting seven with five different drug delivery systems. This is a game changer in the industry.’
With a strong development pipeline and recent relocation to the UK, PSYCH was keen to learn if Biomind planned to list on the London Stock Exchange.
‘We are not planning to list, we will list on the London Stock Exchange by the end of the year,’ stated Antalich definitively.
‘We are about to upgrade our listing on the New York Stock Exchange and recently upgraded our listing on the OTC market.
‘Listing in the UK is vital as not only will it broaden our exposure to capital funds and retail investors, but also because I believe the UK will become a centre for psychedelic research.
‘I see immense value in having the UK investor community close to our portfolio of novel drugs and pipeline of clinical trials.’
Speaking on the importance of the seminal PSYCH Symposium, Antalich stressed the need for greater education on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic medicines.
‘As psychedelic companies we need to continue to conduct academic research and clinical trials, as that is the only way to convince government authorities, regulators and most importantly doctors within the psychiatric community, of the potential of these medicines.
‘Even if we get these drugs approved, if we don’t give the psychiatry community the guarantees they need, there will be no prescriptions on the other side. Without prescriptions being written, these medicines will not get to the patients that desperately need them.
‘800,000 people commit suicide each year, many of which are young people. We need solutions to the healthcare crisis and consequently events that educate regulators and the public to destigmatise psychedelic medicines are critical.’