LONDON, Nov. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of years ago, ancient Aztecs may have held the key to the next biotech breakthrough. During ceremonial rituals, they used a special compound they called "the flesh of the gods"...And today, researchers are discovering that this same compound could transform mental healthcare moving forward, sparking an explosion of interest in what some experts project could be a $6.9 billion market by 2027. Mentioned in today's commentary includes: Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (NYSE: TEVA), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) Subsdiary Allergan, PLC., Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK).
It's already being studied in some of the top medical facilities in the United States, including Johns Hopkins University, where it was found that this chemical was up to 4x more effective in treating depression than typical antidepressants.
This could become one of the greatest transformations in mental health care we've seen in decades, with the potential to treat chronic conditions much faster than typical treatments. And one company plowing ahead at the forefront of this breakthrough is Lobe Sciences Ltd. (LOBE; GTSIF).
The Massive Mental Health Market
In 2019, it was estimated that 1 in every 5 Americans lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And that was before the stress and uncertainty of living through a global pandemic
That's why the market for treating mental health and neurodegenerative disorders is projected to reach a whopping $240 billion by 2026. But the transformative medicine movement could be poised to grab a huge share of that market based on early results.
A study from Johns Hopkins showed that when treating terminal cancer patients with psychedelics to reduce anxiety and depression, showing an incredible 80% success rate upon administering large doses of Psylocibin. And the FDA has even granted "Breakthrough Therapy" status to various psychedelic clinical trials looking to address treatment-resistant depression. But successfully treating trauma has been a longstanding issue in psychiatry.
Each year, an estimated 8 million Americans suffer from PTSD. That's more than the population of the entire state of Washington. And with about 1 in every 13 people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point throughout their lifetime, this is a major priority in the mental health field.
Clearly this all leads to a massive market opportunity, with the alternatives on the market leaving many people continuing to struggle. But Lobe Sciences Ltd. (LOBE; GTSIF) has already assembled ingredients to address the trauma and concussion issues head on. And as they look to play a major role in treating these issues with their solutions, they could stand to grab a huge part of this multi-billion dollar market.
Building A Giant Moat in This Booming Industry
As this industry continues to grow, Lobe Sciences Ltd. (LOBE; GTSIF) is planting its flag and staking its corner of the market. With its recent acquisition of the biotech company Eleusian Biosciences in July, Lobe now has 5 provisional patents to its name and counting. 3 of these provisional patents are for the chemical compounds themselves, and the other 2 are for their innovative devices.
The treatments are each focused around pairing these revolutionary substances with an over-the-counter drug, addressing both the head trauma and emotional trauma when experiencing concussions.
In short, the over-the-counter drug N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has already been shown to be effective in treating the head injury portion, according to studies published by the National Institute of Health. And these special compounds would work in combination with NAC, potentially preventing patients from experiencing the emotional trauma that often comes after the injury.
World-Class Team and Connections
Lobe Sciences Ltd. (LOBE; GTSIF) is already extremely undervalued in comparison to many of its competitors, but when you consider that none of these competitors have relationships with universities like Lobe does, it's plain to see why it is the biotech company to watch in the weeks and months ahead. But it's not just the relationships outside of the organization that give this opportunity so much promise.
Their CEO, Tom Baird, for example, has led engineering design, strategy, and product management for several companies over his career. That includes his background working for TRW Inc., now Northrop Grumman, a $52 billion company.
They've also picked up a valuable asset in Maghsoud Dariani, their new Chief Science Officer. Dariani is the best of both worlds, with both the science smarts and the business savvy, making for a perfect combination for creating a quality product then developing a strategy to grow the business behind it.
He's also currently the CEO of Semorex, a private company developing therapeutics for cancer. And in his past roles as president and vice president of other impressive biotechs, he's built an incredible list of achievements.
Big Pharma is Looking To Capitalize On This Industry As Well
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They include the Zoloft brand from Pfizer (PFE). Zoloft is one of the world's most recognizable antidepressants. The drug works by preventing the movement of serotonin back into nerve endings, essentially making the chemical more available for the body to use. This is important because low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, anxiety, and even obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Pfizer's Zoloft set itself apart of the many other brands of SSRIs thanks to its tolerability. In many studies, Zoloft has proven itself a drug with minimal negative side-effects, making it one of the first medicines doctors try for many people suffering with depression.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) is another company that, thanks to its series of aggressive expansion and acquisitions has played a major role in helping patients get the treatment they need. In fact, its focus on generic, non-brand-name, medications has made treatment of depression more affordable than ever. Some of the medications it distributes include escitalopram, a generic version of the widely popular Lexapro, and venlafaxine, which some may recognize as Effexor.
Ketamine, a powerful anesthetic drug, and tranquilizer has also shown immense benefits as a treatment for depression and anxiety in tiny micro-doses. And after years of resistance, the FDA is now approved on a limited basis the first-ever legal Ketamine drug—a nasal spray called Spravato used in treatment-resistant depression.
Spravato, developed by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), has received widespread praise in the medical community. Not only is the medication the first of its kind, it has also had overwhelmingly positive benefits to the patients utilizing the drug. The drug showed improvement in depression symptoms for periods of time as long as four weeks.
Though patients are not able to use the medicine without direct supervision from a healthcare provider due to the side-effects, the procedure so much has proven to be safe and sustainable in the long run.
The success of Spravato has also piqued the interest of Big Pharma firms. AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) Subsdiary Allergan, PLC. (AGN), primarily known for its Botox branded injection, is working to create a ketamine-like injectable depression treatment called Rapastinel. The company acquired the brand when it bought out Naurex for $560 million. While the drug was undergoing testing, it has hit a few snags along the way. Though Rapastinel has since been discontinued, Allergan is already working on a new treatment for depression and bipolar disorder in its drug, VRAYLAR, and it's already been approved by the FDA for testing.
While ketamine has currently captured the spotlight in the new wave of depression treatments, another compound, MDMA, has also shown promise.
MDMA has a long and strange history dating back to 1912. It was created and patented by Merck & Co. (MRK). Rumor has it that the company was asked to create the medicine as an appetite suppressant for German soldiers before the first World War but was shelved later due to its bizarre side effects. The rumor has since been disproven by an investigation done by Merck which discovered that the drug was developed as a potentially lifesaving blood clot agent. Since Merck's discovery of the chemical, however, it laid relatively dormant until the 1970s, eventually finding its way into the hands of Alexander Shulgin, a renowned chemist known for his experiments with psychedelic medication.
By. Charlotte Hawthorne
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