Medlab’s focus on improving patient outcomes is leading to a homegrown revolution in the way drug medications are effectively delivered to patients.

Australian Biotech Medlab Clinical (ASX:MDC) is positioning itself for a milestone year after securing patents for its NanoCelle drug delivery platform for the next stage in enhanced performance and efficacy of medications.

Medlab is focused on safe and effective delivery of medications for two focus areas – mental health and cancer-related pain.

Founder and CEO Dr Sean Hall said 2021 was a milestone year for NanoCelle, which went through significant validation.

“There were 43 countries that gave patent protection for the delivery platform out to 2036,” he said.


Improving drug delivery

Hall said NanoCelle can make a medicine super small to be administered in different ways other than orally which is much more effective.

“When you swallow something, the body will naturally try to break it down and metabolise it so traditionally from a pharmacology point of view your body will only absorb around 10% of pills you swallow,” Hall said.

“This is why we have injectables which go straight to the bloodstream and have a higher absorption rate of say 80-90%.”


Bypassing the metabolism

NanoCelle’s platform enables for example a squirt of medication into the cheek interior and is absorbed by the buccal membrane bypassing the [gut] metabolism to get smaller effective doses of medication into the body.

Hall said it also helps reduce side-effects for various medications. The company did research on commonly used atorvastatin used to lower cholesterol.

“We compared a 1mg NanoCelle atorvastatin given twice to a 20mg tablet taken once and found our 2mg worked better in bioequivalent studies than 20 taken orally,” he said.

“NanoCelle allowed us to physically give less of the drug to the patient but from a bioavailability point of view they got more therapeutically.”

He said a lot of work on NanoCelle had been done on small molecule repurposing drugs from antibiotics to antidepressants.

“We are trying to address the knowledge gap in the effective delivery of medicine,” Hall said.


Brother’s death a catalyst

Medlab was listed on the ASX in 2015, after a few years of development by Hall, himself a medical doctor, with a focus on research with an MBA in pharmaceutical development.

The death of his brother, Alex, in 2010 from cancer was at once a tragedy and a catalyst for Hall, indirectly leading to the creation of Medlab.

“I felt useless. And what got to me was the way his comorbidities such as pain and seizures were being managed,” he said.

“I would run around the world looking for treatments that could save his life and came across research from a company called GW Pharma.”

GW Pharmaceuticals was one of the early players in medicinal cannabis market and was acquired in 2021 by Nasdaq-listed Jazz Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:JAZZ), in a $US7.2 billion deal.

“I thought maybe this is the answer to Alex’s pain problems rather than the plethora of opioids he was on,” Hall said.


Cracking the code

Medlab started a program called NanaBis, which has become synonymous with the company.

“It is a cannabinoid program which is going through regulatory rigours for a new drug application,” Hall said.

“During 2021 we cracked the code with our biosynthetic partners, so we have synthetic CBD, which is 100% plant identified and has US FDA drug master file recognition and means it is accepted and we’ve done the same with THC.”

“Our future work now is on these synthetics.”


Not just a pot stock

Hall said Medlab has often mistakenly been seen as a pure-play pot stock and it was more of a biotech company.

“People will frame us incorrectly as pot stock but we’re not and don’t have 30 or 40 cannabinoids but just two cannabinoid programs,” he said.

“The other is a pure play CBD going into the stress area and it’s a spinoff of our NanaBis program.

“What people are missing is our work in major depressive disorders which is not a cannabinoid and our other work in vaccine technology.”


Focus on trials and achieving milestones

Hall said after disruptions caused by Covid-19 in recent years, Medlab is confident of recommencing trials with regulatory approval in 2022.

“In some programs these trials are pivotal and they’re all about proving the efficacy of the NanaBis drugs to a regulatory standard,” he said.

“I would expect we will be getting into these trials before the year is out and they are relatively quick because we are dealing with seriously ill at-risk patients with uncontrollable pain.

“Australia and the UK have already signed ethics to go forward.”

Hall said Medlab had kicked off 2022 with very strong chemistry data, which is a major part of regulatory filing and brought online scalable US manufacturing that are pre-FDA approved.

“We’ve also launched into 71 different partnering projects all at various stages and some of which have really accelerated since the patents have been granted,” he said.


This article was developed in collaboration with Medlab, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.