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Why This Psychedelics Company is Focused on Weight Management

Jocelyn Aspa Jocelyn Aspa, The Market Herald
1 Comment| May 5, 2022

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Psychedelics are transforming so many aspects of our everyday lives — from treating mental health conditions to weight management and obesity.

Companies like NeonMind Biosciences (CSE:NEON,OTCQB:NMDBD, Forum) are at the forefront of this innovation and strongly believe in “mind over matter” while supporting health through its psychedelic drug development program.

Stockhouse Editorial recently had the chance to catch up with NeonMind Biosciences CEO Rob Tessarolo about what the company’s been up to and what investors should be watching for.


SH: To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of the company?

RT: NeonMind Biosciences was founded two and a half years ago, and we went public in December 2020 with an IPO on the Canadian Stock Exchange. The company is focused on advancing psychedelic compounds through research and clinical studies and we are also focused on the delivery of care in this same area. Personally, I'm the President and CEO of the company. I've been in the pharmaceutical industry now for over 26 years. I came into the organization with a perspective of deploying innovation and delivering new medications to patients who are suffering from a variety of conditions. I focused on that for 26 years of my career, working in large pharma, small pharma, and mid-size pharmaceutical companies, across North America, both in the US and Canada. I've seen a lot of new medications put into the marketplace and I've been part of many launches of new innovations, and one thing that I know for sure is that if you have an innovative way to treat an old problem, physicians, healthcare providers, payers, patients alike will be very interested in that innovation if it's proven, and it's proven to be safe and effective.

SH: Recently, the company announced the opening of the inaugural, NeonMind branded, mental health clinic in Ontario and plans to launch 10 more clinics across Canada. Can you let our audience know how important this is to the company right now and what it will mean moving forward?

RT: This is a critical strategy within our organization. As I mentioned, we have a drug development business, as well as a delivery of care business or specialty mental health clinics. We announced that our first location will be opening soon. We're going through the final stages of seeking a license for the clinic and we expect to see patients in the middle of the year. This is an important component for NeonMind because the delivery of care side of the psychedelic sector is an opportunity to deliver innovation to patients rather relatively quickly as there are currently approved modalities that fit into this profile that we feel are underutilized in Canada.

These specialty clinics focusing on the deployment of neurostimulation, as well as IV ketamine and intranasal esketamine for various mental health conditions will be critical to helping serve the growing demands of medics of the mental health crisis across Canada. And because this is an opportunity for us to be a revenue-generating business and a cash flow positive business over the next couple of years, this is an important part of NeonMind in so far, as it helps to fund some of the other activities that we have ongoing, like our drug development business.

SH: In other news, NeonMind announced positive preclinical results from trials on the use of psilocybin to tackle weight gain and obesity. Can you talk briefly regarding the NeonMind drug development activities and what these recent results mean to the company plans?

RT: Our research and development with psychedelic substances, our lead program is NEO 001, which is a high dose psilocybin, that we contemplate evaluating this in humans, in obese patients for chronic weight management. The preclinical studies results that you're referring to are in the animal model and we read out our second preclinical study earlier this year. Now, so far, NeonMind has demonstrated in both regular rats, as well as obese rats an ability that psilocybin has the potential to reduce weight gain in these animals. In both of these models, psilocybin rapidly reduced the amount of weight that was being gained by these animals, which is a good surrogate for weight loss in humans.

Now, of course, animal studies don't translate directly, but what they do for companies like NeonMind, and other companies that may be focusing on and pursuing research and development activities, is it points you in the right direction. It gives you some signals in terms of what your substance may be effective for. What NeonMind has done, is we've structured our research development plan for our lead program, NEO 001, which we visited with the FDA last year. We shared with them our research plan and we received their feedback and based on their feedback, we'll submit an IND shortly and hoping that once approved or once we receive a notice of authorization, we'll be able to start our clinical trial in human patients, and this has the potential to be the first-ever proof of concept study with psilocybin for obese patients, measuring weight management.

SH: What else do you feel sets NeonMind apart from other companies in the sector and what are some of the major catalysts that investors can look out for in the coming weeks and months?

RT: I think that's a broad question and maybe I'll try to share some differentiation or how we think about what we're doing at NeonMind, as compared or contrasted across the sector. I think in both of our strategies, so our company is employing two proven strategies in healthcare to create value - a delivery of care model, as well as a drug development model and in both these strategies, we're doing things a little bit differently than we see across the rest of the sector. In drug development, we are the only company that's focused on chronic weight management in obese patients. The majority of other companies are focused on psychiatric indications, major depressive disorders, suicidal ideation treatment resistance, depression, etc. Those are tremendously important indications, but it's a crowded space and there's a number of companies that are studying these substances in those indications. NeonMind, as I mentioned, is focused on chronic weight management in the obese population. More of the metabolic condition of obesity and trying to help and develop innovative approaches for those patients.

In the delivery of care side or on the clinic model. Our clinic model is one where we've taken the stance and we've taken the approach of trying to partner with medical service providers across Canada. We've engaged in two important relationships or partnerships with SRX Health and with Bioscript Solutions. These are specialty pharmacy providers who have a number of sites across the country. I think combined these two separate companies have close to 180 infusion sites across Canada, which allows NeonMind to select the best locations to deploy our evidence-backed therapeutics for mental health.

We'll use their infrastructure; we'll use their clinics, we'll use their front office, we'll use some of their back-office patient billing, etc, and it allows NeonMind to really scale a clinic business relatively quickly, in a real capital sparing manner. I think those are 2 elements that separate us and have us provide us some uniqueness within the sector with respect to near term milestones. On the specialty care or specialty clinic side of our business, we expect to open our first clinic in Mississauga, Ontario, in the middle of the year, seeing patients this year. We'll announce some additional locations before the end of this year, and we expect to have 10 clinics open and up and running within the next two years. On the drug development side, we'll submit an IND to the FDA in the coming months. Providing we get positive feedback from the FDA, we'll be able to open a clinical trial, the world's first clinical trial before the end of 2022, enrolling our first patient in that proof-of-concept study with psilocybin. We think those are two important milestones. There are several important milestones for our company and for investors to watch with respect to NeonMind Biosciences.

SH: Can you also provide some insight the key members of the management team and their importance to the success of NeonMind?

RT: One of the things we've done at NeonMind, is we've tried to keep the overhead and the footprint of the organization quite modest and well-controlled. We've got a fairly tight senior management team. Ernie Ho is our VP of Corporate Development and Ernie is a long time executive professional in the pharmaceutical sector and has had lots of experience in terms of drug development, as well as contracting, licensing, as well as having experience in the areas of laboratory services and standing up clinics of that nature. Rick Huang is our CFO, and Rick's been the CFO of a number of public companies over the last 10 years and so those two individuals, along with me, we're trying to run a very tight ship in terms of the organization.

Now, what we've done, that's again, a little bit unique, maybe versus some of the other parts of the sector. We've got a very robust advisory group that we've stood up and so we have two separate advisory boards, one for the specialty clinics business and one for the drug development business and in both of those boards, we've brought worldwide experts, professionals, in those different disciplines to bare our advisory board. The specialty mental health clinics business is filled with luminaries in the space, individuals who have been advocating for and building interventional psychiatry practices and modalities in the innovation for literally decades in Canada, and so I think our ad board on the specialty clinic side is second to none.

On the drug development side, I reached out to people that I have known from past lives and past role experiences. Philippe Martin is the head of our R&D advisory board and Philippe is a drug development professional, he's been running programs for large pharma companies for a couple of decades, with a lot of experience in professional drug development and moving programs through into the clinic and through the clinic to clinical results and put them in front of the FDA for approval. A really spectacular group of people on the drug development side as well. We also felt it was important early on to engage individuals who have had experience doing psychedelic trials. Dr. Albert Garcia-Romeu out of John Hopkins is on our R&D advisor board as well, giving us tremendous advice with respect to designing and executing clinical studies with psilocybin. He was part of the early seminal studies with the smoking for psilocybin and smoking cessation. He brings a lot of experience to the table in that regard.

SH: And finally, if there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please feel free to discuss.

RT: I don't think you've overlooked anything. I would maybe just sum it up and I would say that NeonMind is a company that has been focused on advancing these two strategies toward value-creating milestones. We spent the last 12 to 15 months really creating these strategies and advancing them closer and closer to some critical milestones as we've already walked through here in this interview. The company is really at a tipping point in terms of what's going to happen next, and so we think that the best and most exciting times for NeonMind is ahead for us and for our investors and we think we are a unique opportunity to play in both delivery of care side of the business, as well as a very specific and focused unique drug development program, as well in the psychedelic sector.

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FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.

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