Psychedelic Finance – Interview with Christopher J. Moreau | Chief Executive Officer, Algernon Pharmaceuticals
Mr. Moreau is a seasoned business professional in the life sciences sector with a strong background in biotechnology research, business development and a deep expertise in the capital markets. Mr. Moreau was previously President & CEO and Director of a publicly traded company focussed on the research & development of screening tests for prostate cancer, skin cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. He has raised in excess of $30 million from the capital markets and has over 30 years of senior management experience in private & publicly traded company environments.
What made you personally excited about psychedelics?
It was the preclinical data from studies conducted at the University of California, Davis that found that psychedelic drugs such as LSD and DMT promoted neural plasticity and development. Then a recent preclinical stroke study showed that DMT improved motor function and reduced the area of dead cells which to me, was a remarkable finding.
What do you see as the potential impact psychedelics will have on healthcare as a whole and what kind of therapeutic potential do they have?
If psychedelics prove to help people with scientifically confirmed therapeutic effects then I believe that all of the fear that is associated with something new and unknown will melt away. It may take time but I do believe it will happen to the possible benefit of millions.
Can you explain how Algernon repurposes drugs for new therapeutic uses and how this relates to what you are building around psychedelics?
Algernon Pharmaceuticals identifies and then investigates safe, already approved drugs for new disease applications, moving them efficiently and safely into new human trials, developing new formulations and seeking new regulatory approvals in global markets. Algernon specifically investigates compounds that have never been approved in the U.S. or Europe to avoid off label prescription writing.
While a psychedelic drug has never been approved before, Algernon is looking to repurpose DMT from it original use as a psychedelic to a drug that can help treat stroke.
How has Algernon been progressing towards the goal of becoming the first company globally to investigate DMT as a therapeutic treatment for stroke?
We recently announced that all of the required permits and licenses for the manufacture of its cGMP supply of DMT have been received. We are targeting our Phase 1 human study to be conducted at Hammersmith Medicines Research UK in Q4, 2021. The planned study will investigate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of intravenous DMT infusion in healthy volunteers with no prior history of psychedelic exposure. Specifically, the trial will aim to identify a sub-hallucinogenic dosing regimen to support planned clinical studies in stroke patients. We also announced that our first preclinical study, with research grade DMT, is now underway with Charles River Laboratories. The in vitro experiments will provide information on the duration and dose of infusion needed to achieve maximal cortical neurite outgrowth as well as the underlying mechanism of the drug’s action.
Can you share more about AP-188 and how you’re hoping to use it to treat stroke patients?
Well, AP-188 is our version of DMT which has had some changes made to its structure to provide us with patent protection. At this time I can’t go into any additional detail on the subject.
What excites you the most about working with Dr. Strassman and Dr. Nutt on Algernon’s DMT drug discovery? What unique areas are they focused on advancing?
I have really enjoyed working with both of them….I mean…these guys are serious scientists and clinicians, true professionals and I really love working with others who are at the top of their game. Both have been very helpful guiding our preclinical as well as our first human trial research programs.
What do you believe is the most important thing for people to understand about the future of psychedelics as medicine?
To open their minds to new possibilities and to let go of labels and fear …. those two things have no place in science. We must explore, investigate and move forward with any idea that may end up helping reduce mankind’s suffering.
Who else is doing important work within psychedelics you think more people should be aware of?
Compass Pathways, MindMed, Small Pharma, to name a few are some of the companies who appear very active in the space. However, Algernon is unique in that we are planning to become the first company to advance DMT for the treatment of stroke into clinical trials.