Special Report: Neurotech International (ASX:NTI) has a new chairman and a new focus – cannabis treatments for cognitive disorders, rather than medical devices to treat them.

The new chairman of Neurotech International (ASX:NTI) says he’s inviting investors to go on a journey with the company as it pivots into a new space.

Brian Leedman, the founder and executive director of ResApp Health and former WA chairman of Ausbiotech, joined Neurotech on October 19 as its non-executive chairman.

The company is has been commercialising its flagship Mente Autism product, a brainwave-measuring headband that aimed to “relax” autistic children’s minds.

“Despite having been on the market for a few years, it has not been commercially successful to date,” Leedman says.

Now the company will be using the Mente device to monitor patients in clinical studies involving “very unique” cannabis strains that Neurotech licensed from an Australian hemp grower in July as a treatment for neurological conditions such as autism and ADHD.

In September, Neurotech began in vitro cell studies to assess the neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory and neuro-modulatory activities of seven of the special cannabis strains.

Neurotech went into a trading halt on Thursday so it could release the results of the in-vitro cell studies as well as disclose a capital raising, which it may announce as soon as Monday.

Small company, big upside

Neurotech shares, it should be noted, have languished over the last two years after falling steadily from late 2016 to 2019.

But the result is a company with a small market capitalisation and a lot of potential, says Leedman.

Neurotech had a valuation of just $10 million based on last week’s trading.

“We’re coming from a low value, so there can be quite the upside,” Leedman says.

The game plan is to bring the cannabis strains that express neuroprotective qualities in human cells into human trials early next year, Leedman says.

“There are some advantages in terms of being in the cannabinoid space, versus an unproven drug,” he notes.

Cannabis is already proven safe, so cannabis formulations can advance through clinical trials more rapidly than a new molecule, he said.

The company’s Mente headbands will be part of the clinical trials at Monash University hospital – researchers will use them to analyse the neurological responses in children taking the drug, Leedman said.

“There is still great synergy with the company’s lead product,” he said.

The cannabis strains that Neurotech are looking to develop have negligible levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gets users “high”, which is also good from a regulatory standpoint.

“The question is, how will that product be delivered, and in what way,” Leedman said.

It might be in an oil-based form, an under-the-tongue formulation or in a spray, Leedman said.

While drugs that show efficacy in laboratory test tubes don’t always work well in humans, Leedman says the company should do well if next year’s clinical trials are successful.

“There is an opportunity for investors to come aboard and come on this journey with us, as we achieve clinical milestones – for which we will be fully funded to achieve.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Neurotech International, 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.