Cancer treatments have come a long way, but they have a major blind spot that needs to be addressed: mental health associated with the diagnosis. In 2020, there were 18 million new cancer cases globally, and that’s expected to climb to 27.5 million new cases annually by 2040. Cancer-related distress, including depression, anxiety, and existential crisis impacts 56 percent of cancer patients.
Despite this need, cancer-related distress often goes untreated due to contraindications with cancer treatments. These risks often result in oncologists being fearful to prescribe traditional first-line antidepressants, leaving cancer patients with only psychiatric counseling to treat their distress which has limited success in this patient cohort.
Facing a cancer diagnosis is difficult enough. Facing it without effective psychiatric support is even more challenging. Patients report feelings of helplessness and a hastened desire for death. Researchers are now exploring how natural psychedelic compounds can be transformed into practical mental health treatments for cancer patients. Psilocybin, has already been shown to be effective in treating major depression. Will these bold new medications finally give patients relief?Albert Labs (CSE:ABRT) is a Vancouver-based research and drug development company focused on improving patient access to innovative mental health medications. The company is presently developing a natural psilocybin-based medication for patients with cancer-related distress. With the intention of expanding its clinical development program to address other unmet mental health needs after initial success.
Albert Labs has a proprietary and provisionally patented process for creating the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in its inaugural medication. The company aims to produce scalable, consistent, and standardized medicines using its advanced culture technology. The improved quality and consistency enabled by this patent-pending process are paramount to scaling the Eu-GMP production of psilocybin API. The same process and methodology can also be applied to the cultivation of other fungi species, opening up the untapped potential market of bio-active fungal compounds.
This is not a synthetic or biosynthetic process and does not use or introduce harmful synthetic chemicals or genetically modified bacteria in the production stages. In order to conduct this research, Albert Labs has a Health Canada Licensed facility. This regulatory sign off enables the possession, production, assembling, sale, and delivery of psilocybin and other psychoactive controlled substances.
Dr. Malcolm Barrat-Johnson, chief medical officer of Albert Labs, explained why the company is focusing on treating cancer patients in a recent interview, “We’re looking at depression and anxiety in cancer patients. We haven’t looked into this area very much over the last 20 to 30 years because of the interaction of many antidepressants in cancer patients. With psilocybin, we can look at this group because the potential risk of interaction is significantly lower.”
Patients with cancer-related distress are the initial focus of the company’s research and development. This focus is due to the enormous unmet need within this patient cohort and it goes a long way to mitigate regulatory delays and costs. Real-World Evidence (RWE) is the clinical model employed to accelerate the company’s clinical trials. RWE is encouraged in the UK and utilizing a wide array of data, beyond what is generated in traditional randomized controlled trials is endorsed. Randomized controlled trials can take five to 12 years to complete, whereas using a pragmatic approach can bring a new medication to market significantly quicker. RWE was famously used to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Albert Labs has an existing relationship with the largest oncology center in Europe. This partnership will allow the company to commercially deploy its innovative treatment to cancer patients rapidly. The company won’t need to build out its own clinics — it only needs regulatory approval to begin treating patients.
A diverse team of managers, doctors, and scientists leads the company towards achieving its goals. Dr. Malcolm Barrat-Johnson, the CMO of the company, has an extensive background in pharmaceutical development having formerly served as a regulator for MHRA, the UK’s regulatory agency. Dr. Barrat-Johnson has also worked for European regulatory bodies and large companies, such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
Dr. Michael Raymont, CEO and director, has diverse management experience in multiple industries, including private and public sectors. His time in the public sector is notable as he led the National Research Council, the largest federal research and development organization in Canada. He successfully led and oversaw billions of dollars worth of investment into the pharmaceutical industry.Dr. Sara Tai, Principal Investigator has extensive clinical research experience, having developed psychological interventions for people diagnosed with a variety of mental health issues such as depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder. Her research focuses on the science and practice of therapy, progressing these into regulatory approved clinical practices. In addition to developing these structures and practices, Sara has a deep understanding of the commercial imperative of delivering the necessary training to offer these novel therapeutics at scale as part of the UK's National Health Service.
- Albert Labs has an existing relationship with the largest oncology centre in Europe, setting the stage for rapid commercial deployment of its medication upon completion of clinical trials and receipt of regulatory approval.
- The usage of the Real-World Evidence clinical model will accelerate the clinical trials and allow the company to reach regulatory approval much faster than traditional trials.
- Albert Labs has a proprietary and provisionally patented process for producing the active ingredient in its medicines that allows improved scale and standardization.
- A diverse team of doctors, scientists, and managers are leading the company towards receiving approval for its inaugural medicine and beyond.
Confidential API Bioreactor
A well-known problem facing psychedelic medicines is the capability to manufacture natural psychedelic compounds that are consistent batch to batch and that can be scaled as demand increases. Albert Labs has filed a provisional US patent for its confidential API bioreactor that allows the company to solve this problem. Its bioreactor allows for consistent production of the active pharmaceutical ingredient used in its medication, KRN-101.
- Rapid Production: The bioreactor is designed to rapidly turn Pilocybe mycelium into pharmaceutical standard medicine.
- Increased Consistency and Control: It’s challenging to produce natural psychedelic medications if every batch has a different potency. Albert Labs’ bioreactor has complete control over essential variables that result in consistent API.
- Decreased Risk of Contamination: Contamination can significantly interfere with producing natural compounds. The company’s bioreactor minimizes this risk by decreasing the human element and creating a controlled environment.
Dr. Michael Raymont - CEO and Director
Dr. Michael Raymont’s career has spanned leadership roles in venture capital, agricultural and healthcare investment, tech company leadership, and senior government service. In addition, he ran the National Research Council (NRC), Canada’s largest research and development organization. With a background in science and business, Dr. Raymont has advised corporations and governments, worked extensively internationally and sat on the boards of over 50 public and private companies.
Chand Jagpal - COO and Director
Chand Jagpal has over 20 years of experience in public company management, accounting, and financial disclosure and compliance. Jagpal’s career includes experience in medical cannabis, agriculture, biotech, nutraceuticals, real estate development, and business software systems industries. His tenure includes serving as director and CEO of Grand Peak Capital, a publicly listed venture capital company investing in a portfolio of resource and technology companies. Jagpal brings a comprehensive understanding of new technology and IP development, as well as close relationships with federal and provincial government funding agencies.
Dr Malcolm Barratt-Johnson - CMO
Malcolm has over 22 years in the pharmaceutical industry specialising in Medical Affairs, Product Development and Regulatory Strategy. Malcolm has worked extensively in senior positions in both Industry and Government. Holding positions at AstraZeneca, Roche, the UK Medicines Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA). Most recently Malcolm acted as a Clinical Specialist and Chair of the European Commission’s Biomedical Research Programme (Horizon 2020), has lectured in both Europe and the United States on medicinal development and continues lecturing at King’s College and Imperial College, London.
Dr. Sara Tai - Principal Investigator
Dr. Sara Tai, Principal Investigator has extensive clinical research experience, having developed psychological interventions for people diagnosed with a variety of mental health issues such as depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder. Her research focuses on the science and practice of therapy, progressing these into regulatory approved clinical practices. In addition to developing these structures and practices, Sara has a deep understanding of the commercial imperative of delivering the necessary training to offer these novel therapeutics at scale as part of the UK's National Health Service.
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