We spoke with Michael Redman, CEO of Oncolix, about personalized treatments for cancers.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome to Texas Business Radio. Hope you’re having a great weekend. We have a great show for you. We have a studio full of folks, I think you’re really going to enjoy. Biotech is big business. It’s big business in Texas and it’s something that I have learned more about it in the last couple of hours than I thought I would have ever. But it’s something that I think you need to know about because I find it fascinating. And we have a number of folks in here that are going to tell you about various aspects of that industry. In the meantime, get your questions in guys. 844-814-8144 is our 24 hour call in line. Call in now, call in later. We also monitor #TBR on Twitter. TBR, Texes Business Radio or go to the web site. Send us an email from there and see the entire show in high def video. Wealth of information on there. If you hadn’t been there, you need to get there. Texasbusinessradio.com. We will also have links to all these guys we’re talking to. So if you’re driving, don’t take notes, don’t worry about jotting it down. We’re going to have links to everybody, right there on the web site. I’m your host Matt Register. Here as always with Jay Curry. Jay talk to me.
Jay Curry: What a great topic, huh? This is going to be, I think informative. I don’t care if you’re in the medical business, you’re in the bio business, you’re in, whatever business you in, this is going to be interesting and informative. We all need to know how this biotech stuff works because it’s going to be a major impact on health care over the next 30 years. And we’re going to have a great show today with some very interesting technologies.
Matt Register: No doubt. And the advances in the medical industry are rising so fast and they’re not rising so fast on accident. Their rising so fast because there are very smart guys spending a whole lot of time and energy trying to figure this stuff out. And by the way a whole lot of money to be made in that industry.
Jay Curry: That’s right.
Matt Register: We’re going to jump right into it. Our first company, Oncolix, out of Houston, Texas. Michael Redman is the President and Chief Executive Officer. Michael, welcome to the show sir.
Michael Redman: Pleased to be here.
Matt Register: So, tell me a little bit about Oncolix.
Michael Redman: Well, Oncolix is one of probably several thousand biotechnology companies that are trying to raise the level of health care. Our particular company is focused in reproductive health care and more specifically gynecological cancers and breast cancer. We believe there’s a lot of unmet medical needs for some of these cancers, especially ovarian cancer.
Matt Register: No doubt. Ovarian cancer is a killer, breast cancer is a killer. Right? And it’s something that if you get the diagnosis as having ovarian cancer, there’s not, the outlook isn’t good for you. Right?
Michael Redman: That’s correct. In the area of breast cancer, there are some new wonder targeted drugs that are available and the five year survival rate of breast cancer is over 95 percent. That is not the case with ovarian cancer, which is ten times more deadly than breast cancer. So, that’s the area that we’re targeting first is ovarian cancer because the unmet medical needs are so great for this population of women.
Matt Register: Well, we were talking right before the show. Now in layman’s current terms, if you can, explain to us how this, this drug actually works.
Michael Redman: This is a very unique mechanism called autophagocytosis or autophagy. If you’ve been falling the Nobel Prize winners, the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry was announced in December and he’s considered to be the father of autophagy. Now, he doesn’t have a connection with our company but it shows that this is a very promising mechanism of action. What happens is that you are using a drug that tricks the cancer cells into consuming itself. And that is what they call a program cell death. And this is what really excites us, this mechanism of action was discovered by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center right here in Houston.
Matt Register: Got it. Well, hey, that’s exciting. If you could talk to program the cell into eating itself, it just makes everything easier. Now this drug is still, is finishing its Phase 1 trials. Correct?
Michael Redman: Correct. The first trial, this is being, this, this drug is being used in women that have advanced ovarian cancer. Just to put things in perspective. Over 80 percent of the time when ovarian cancer is diagnosed it’s already in late stage.
Matt Register: OK.
Michael Redman: It’s easy to control ovarian cancer if it’s found in the early stage but that’s not the case with most of the patients.
Matt Register: So is this just because it’s a symptomatic or, or people just don’t know they have it until they have a pretty severe case of it?
Michael Redman: Yeah. The symptoms are all across the board. It could be bloating. So it’s not something that you said “Well, I know something’s really wrong with me”.
Matt Register: Right.
Michael Redman: And it’s very often misdiagnosed and there is no current diagnostics that are effective in, in diagnosing ovarian cancer. We hope that’s going to change in the future because the earlier you can diagnose the patient, the better the prognosis for the patient.
Matt Register: Yeah. But you certainly have to figure out how to do, how to identify it early. Right?
Michael Redman: That is the key. The other thing is how to treat the patient because the industry standard for ovarian cancer right now is chemotherapy. Now chemotherapy has been around for a long, long time. And it initially works in a very high percentage of the patients. But even when it works in most patients, it fails within six months and you’re out of options.
Matt Register: Well and the side effects almost kill you too. Right? I mean it’s, it’s not a pretty way to treat a disease.
Michael Redman: The side effects are horrendous. And that’s what really excites me about our drug, because so far the only two side effects that have been reported due to the drug have been itchiness and redness at the injection site. So that’s pretty incredible for a cancer drug.
Matt Register: I tell you what, I would take it before I would take side effects of the chemo. Now, walk me through, really quickly, because I didn’t understand this until you explain this to me before the show. Talk to me about this company because this is a no revenue company. Right? And tell you what, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the way these companies typically work. A company gets started based around a piece of technology. They start developing a drug. They go through the testing process. In the meantime nobody is writing you a check. You’re not getting any revenue. And once you get far enough along or you get to the point that it can actually be used, that’s when all the revenue happens. Is that correct?
Michael Redman: That’s right. So, for example the NIH is a major contributor of these early stage companies. And you would license your technology from a university, our hospital system, National Institutes of Health and then the job of the CEO is to then raise money to advance these drugs into clinical trials. And so we’re operating on venture capital money with no revenues for many, many years.
Jay Curry: Michael, how does, can you walk us through? What is, you have stage one, phase one, phrase two, how’s all that work? So you’ve got a, say a hospital and they’ve come up with the drug and they’re starting to go out. But what’s the stage you have to get to and how long does it take? How long is it going to be before we see this thing.?
Michael Redman: It takes a long time. It could be 10-15 years before a drug gets on the market and can cost you, end up, upwards of 300 to 500 million dollars before you have a regulatory approval. And the larger indications like breast cancer. So what happens is that you have a promising drug and a researcher has some in-vitro data or you may have some small animal rodent data and based upon that information then a company like an Oncolix would take on that drug. The first thing you have to do is to perform pretty substantial toxicology studies and safety studies and from there then you would have to make sure that you have the drug that you think you have. So you have to purify the drug, you have to characterize the drug. Then you would have to petition the FDA for clearance to conduct trials in humans. And it depends on the type of drug, they’re either given to healthy patients in the phase one but in the case of cancer drugs they’re normally given to disease patients. So the first trial is normally what they call a dose escalation trial, you want to give several doses to the patients until you determine the proper dose. The second trial then you look at that particular drug with the optimal dose for a longer period of time. And then you move into the pivotal trial, is comparing yourself with the best available therapy.
Jay Curry: Right now you’re, you’re in one, getting ready to move to two?
Michael Redman: Yes. We hope to be in phase two sometime next year and it will be a longer trial with, with more patients and we would treat these patients with the optimal dose.
Jay Curry: Very promising, huh?
Matt Register: Well, and I tell you what, this is something that if you do end up with an approved drug, you do end up passing all these trials. There’s a tremendous amount of money to be made. Right? You need to have that high return because of the risk. We were talking before, you’re in the middle of a capital raise right now. This is not risk-less. Right? At all, as an investor this is, this is probably…
Jay Curry: Consider high risk, wouldn’t it?
Matt Register: You know, the opposite of risk-less. However, the opportunity for returns could be very, very large. Right?
Michael Redman: Well, you could put your money in a bank and make 1 percent. You’re not doing much for society but in our particular case there’s a two pronged advantage. Number one is that you do have the opportunity to make up to say a thousand times your investment. There’s a lot of companies that started just like ours that end up selling for 10 to 20 billion dollar plus, once they had data from advanced clinical trials. But the other thing you have to look at is what we’re doing for society. In the case of cancer or any other serious disease investors are the ones that make it possible for us to make life on ourselves and our descendants much easier. And without investors in this segment, we don’t have any, any drugs, new drugs on the market. It all requires capital and time.
Matt Register: No doubt. And this is how advancements in medicine happen. Michael Redman, CEO and President, Oncolix. Michael, thank you for joining us.
Jay Curry: And congratulations.
Michael Redman: Thank you for your time.
Matt Register: Hey guys, we got to take a break. We’re going to be back. We’re just getting warmed up. We got more biotech coming up right after the break. We’ll see you then.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.