Our next company featured on Capital Compass is Medicus Pharma Ltd. (TSXV:MDCX), which has headquarters in Toronto. The company is a publicly traded clinical stage, multi-strategy holding company focused on investing in and accelerating novel life sciences and biotechnology companies through FDA approved clinical trials.
Joining us today is Raza Bokhari, executive chairman and CEO of Medicus Pharma, who is here to share all the information about the company and its recent projects.
TMH: For our listeners who may not be aware, can you provide some background about your company?
Bokhari: It is indeed a holding company that is actively looking to acquire, invest and try to accelerate these clinical stage life sciences biotech companies through FDA-approved trials, get them through proof of concept and tee them up for collaboration with Big Pharma. And SkinJect currently is our flagship company, and we are very excited about that opportunity, and we are looking to explore others.
TMH: The company recently made a few key additions to the management team as well as the advisory board. Can you walk us through these changes and what they mean for the company?
Bokhari: Of course. We are very fortunate to have a very sophisticated and experienced board that already has Dr. Larry Kaiser, the former CEO of Temple Health System, Frank Lavelle, the former global CEO of Siemen Medical.
But we, right after going public, announced the addition of Barry Fishman, the former CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical and the C-suite executive at Eli Lilly Canada, to join the board.
In addition, we announced Dr. Paul Marchetto to lead the scientific advisory board. Paul is a very familiar name in sports medicine, besides being the former surgeon for the Philadelphia Eagles because we are a Philadelphia-based management and board.
So, we are very excited for Paul that he is going to lead our Advisory Board and he has a particular niche in making investments in these clinical stage life sciences companies.
So, we are looking forward to benefiting from him. And at the management level, we added Dr. Huma Qamar as our chief scientific officer and head of our R&D group. Huma has extensive experience and has credentials from Harvard, from Yale, and from the University of Pennsylvania. And her focus is oncology and drug development. And she has joined us and has given up a thriving position to get in at the ground floor level of this company.
So we are excited that we have at every level have the best of class people looking to advance our objectives.
TMH: Moving over to SkinJect, one of Medicus’ recent major investments, can you speak about the treatment specifically and how it is different from other treatments?
Bokhari: SkinJect is indeed a very special investment. I have nearly 25-plus years of experience in healthcare. I have looked and invested in several companies. Some have been resounding success, others have not been as expected.
But SkinJect is a special company. It has a technology that is patented by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon to non-invasively treat skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma of the skin.
Now, basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer. It is the … fastest growing cancer and it transcends all gender, age, ethnicity. And the only treatment currently available is a surgical excision. So, painful but effective.
SkinJect has this dream of trying to treat basal cell carcinoma non-invasively using these cellulose-based microneedles and delivering a cancer drug at the site of the cancer. And the phase one trial has some very promising results. So, we’re very excited about SkinJect and its market potential.
TMH: What are some of the upcoming milestones for SkinJect?
Bokhari: So, SkinJect has already had a phase one trial completed. A phase one trial is a safety and tolerability study that was completed in March of 2021. And SkinJect has an approved phase two trial in hand, and that is what we’re looking to accelerate.
It is important to mention that the SkinJect phase one trial, while it demonstrated its safety and tolerability, the 13 patients that were in the study did not have any adverse negative reactions to report. So, they tolerated the drug and it demonstrated that it was safe when injected transdermally because Doxorubicin systemically, if taken orally in any other way, has toxic side effects.
So its delivery through this specially designed microarray needles certainly has demonstrated its safety, but a very important revelation that we also found in the phase one study because the patients that volunteered were actually with basal cell carcinoma, that six of those patients in which there was complete desolution of the microarray needle, it actually also cured the cancer, a cancer that was at moderate to late stage and had no recurrence or relapse.
So SkinJect phase two trial, we already have an understanding how it will unfold. And since there is a milestone that we await which is the recruitment of our first patient in the phase two trial, and our hope is that with an expanded phase two trial that covers more than a few hundred patients, we are able to demonstrate to the FDA that this drug and this delivery mechanism should be approved on an accelerated basis without a phase three trial.
So, this is a very exciting opportunity for us and our shareholders.
TMH: From a broader outlook, what’s the approximate size of the skin cancer market and do you anticipate significant market growth through 2024?
Bokhari: So, as I had mentioned that skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer on the planet, and it is the fastest growing cancer. Anyone that you know and that is in the age range, which are in an aging population, they have basal cell carcinoma, and the only treatment is surgical excision.
So, the market size is measured based on these procedures, which are approaching 9.5 million annually, which creates just in the United States or North America market size in excess of $20 billion. So it’s a very big market size.
The rest of the world probably is in excess of $30 billion. But keeping our focus on North America, we hope that our non-invasive treatment can penetrate and over time can capture at least 10 per cent of the market size. So big numbers and also a good solution and bringing some efficiency on our escalating healthcare cost in the United States, in particular, and in North America in general.
To stay up to date on the company, head to their website at medicuspharma.com or track it down on the Venture Exchange under the symbol V.MDCX.
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