There is a new player in the world of psychedelic medicine that holds a strategic advantage in intellectual property (IP) protection, artificial intelligence (AI), product development and patient treatment by a team of licensed doctors. Today, we feature Aion Therapeutic (CSE:AION), an international company that has a strategic partnership in Jamaica allowing for the creation of healing formulations combining medical/psychedelic mushroom compounds with medical cannabis compounds in a fully legal and licensed environment. This unique geographic location allows Aion to cut through the red tape of regulations in legally restricted countries to expedite its research and launch its products much faster.
Aion’s Solution to the FDA/DEA Problem
Companies that plan to introduce individual, naturally-occurring psychedelic/psychogenic compounds for medicinal purposes face one common problem – they cannot be individually patented because they exist in nature. To make matters worse, the process from start to finish for FDA approval of any drug is very, very expensive, and therefore profit incentives for investors must be substantial enough to cover the risks. Specifically for psilocybin-only products being developed by other companies, assuming FDA trials are successful and the DEA chooses to reschedule the compound, the ultimate challenge might be preventing big pharma companies from capturing all the market share on their own.
Future psilocybin leaders are taking different approaches to this problem. For example, Compass Pathways, who recently announced they will pursue an IPO on the NYSE, is addressing this through owning the clinics where psilocybin will be administered, and using therapists for a guided trip experience. However, the new kid on the block, Aion Therapeutics (CSE:AION) is tackling this problem using an accepted IP approach, to create the best patentable combination of compounds to treat specific medical problems.
Aion’s strategy aims to create a new line of therapeutics (pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals) that have a higher efficacy and success rate by using the most healing combinations of compounds from medical/psychedelic mushrooms and medical cannabis used together in patent protected treatment formulations. To determine which combinations create an entourage effect of effectiveness, Aion is employing proven AI techniques (we will get to that later.) Once a combination treatment is confirmed to have therapeutic potential, Aion’s doctors and scientists examine the effectiveness using numerous scientific methodologies, such as, 3D cell culture tests for their cancer treatments. Aion’s combination approach allows for their optimized, patent-protected products to launch immediately for treatment in Jamaica, but also internationally if/when the regulatory rules for those compounds change in each respective jurisdiction.
But patents are only as good as the ability to defend them, right?
While many junior companies would struggle with Aion’s strategy, their Executive Chairman of the Board, Stephen D. Barnhill, MD, has extensive experience in the matter. Dr. Barnhill is an expert in AI, and an inventor on more than 40 AI and combinatorial patents globally. In his 35-year career, Dr. Barnhill has struck deals with Pfizer, Corning-MetPath, Quest Diagnostics, Clarient (now GE Healthcare), LabCorp, NeoGenomics, Abbott, Bruker and others. He has published many peer-reviewed papers with academics including those from MD Anderson Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, Stanford University Medical Center and others. Dr. Barnhill’s patents were a large part of the intellectual property portfolio that won the 1st Place MICO Award from MDB Capital for most valuable disruptive patent portfolio out of 1,600 publicly traded companies in May, 2010. He also has experience successfully defending his patents, one of which was a victory in a decision against Intel.
On September 8th, we had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Barnhill, who shared his stories in cancer research and treatment, and how his experience relates to his plans with Aion Therapeutic. After his retirement, in 2012, Dr. Barnhill’s mother fell ill to pancreatic cancer. While chemotherapy was working to reduce the size of the tumour, she had severe intractable nausea and lost so much weight that she was at risk of dying from starvation. To Dr. Barnhill’s surprise, in 2013, one of his mother’s doctors recommended medical cannabis as a last ditch effort to save her. Ten minutes after her first treatment, his mother’s nausea went away, and ten minutes later she was eating again. After a week, she was showing signs of improvement with a three pound weight gain which was a great improvement, but tragically, three days later she passed away from aspiration pneumonia. For her son, a man who spent a significant portion of his life studying cancer, a spark was lit. What if he had known about the positive effects of cannabis earlier? Could his mother have finished her chemotherapy treatment by not getting so weak? If so, maybe she could have been saved.
Dr. Barnhill decided to come out of retirement and to dedicate his life to learning and understanding how the various compounds in cannabis were able to treat various health problems. But, cannabis was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States, and Dr. Barnhill needed to find a jurisdiction with an open mind on the subject to perform clinical testing. In 2016, he went all in, and opened a medical cannabis health and wellness resort in Negril, Jamaica called Doc’s Place (recently awarded 1st Place in the world as top cannabis health and wellness resort by Edibles magazine), and he opened a company called Apollon Formularies Jamaica, Ltd which is licensed by the Cannabis License Authority (CLA) for R&D, cultivation, processing of oils, manufacturing of products, operating a legal therapeutic dispensary, and treatment of patients. Apollon Formularies won 1st Place at the High Times Cannabis Cup for best Indica flower and won 1st Place at the prestigious Jack Herer Cup for best solvent medical cannabis oil. Jamaica’s laws not only allow for patients to be treated with medical cannabis, they also allow for psilocybin.
Let’s get back to the AI
Dr. Barnhill and his associates describe the process of AI diagnostics and drug discovery as presenting the AI computer with a problem, with a set of rules and boundaries, to determine the best possible solution. By adding dimensionality, approaching problems from multiple angles, and eliminating ineffective outcomes quickly, AI can determine the best possible combinations of treatments for specific medical problems. In terms of timeframes, AI can successfully perform in minutes, what the human brain may never achieve on its own. Also importantly, these AI discovered treatment formulations are patentable.
Dr. Barnhill also discussed how Aion will be using human genome data to triage patients into the correct therapy like is currently done in the chemotherapy arena. Aion will be collecting blood specimens from all patients to be used to establish genomic based triage biomarkers for personalized medical treatments. These biomarker profiles will also become part of the intellectual property portfolio of Aion.
Aion is applying this customized approach to psilocybin and other mushroom compounds in combination with medical cannabis. On August 31, 2020, the company already introduced five intellectual property filings for combinatorial pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals.
The titles of these five patent applications are:
1. Compositions and Methods for Treatment of Cancers;
2. Compositions and Methods for Treatment of Psychoses and Psychotic Disorders;
3. Antiviral Compositions and Methods for Their Use;
4. Compositions and Methods for Treatment of Inflammation; and
5. Compositions and Methods for Promoting Weight Loss and For Treatment of Obesity
Barnhill’s AI will initially focus on establishing an entourage effect, by combining compounds in mushrooms with compounds in cannabis to try to remove the negative response to psilocybin experienced by an average of 20% of individuals. Aion’s AI will also test non-psychoactive compounds (edible mushrooms with Hemp CBD) for the treatment of the medical conditions listed in the patents described above..These combinatorial products from compounds in edible mushrooms with CBD hemp could be available for international consumers much sooner than those utilizing psilocybin and THC because of legal restrictions in many countries. The ultimate business plan is to license the patent protected compounds to international pharmaceutical companies, for them to create and distribute worldwide.
Wrapping it up
When buying any penny stock, you need to believe in the people running the company, their ability to deploy capital wisely, and investors must see a profit light at the tunnel. Psilocybin is currently witnessing a medical arms race, as it is becoming more and more apparent that the positive effects of the compound far outweigh any negatives. While it is too early to state that Aion will become a take out target, if psilocybin plays out the same way the cannabis sector did, the larger cap companies in the space will be keeping a close eye on Dr. Barnhill’s progress. The ultimate winners in this new sector, in terms of percentage returns, may not be the companies that gain the largest market share, but those who hold the best IP-protected products at the time when international drug laws begin to change. Aion’s capabilities and experience in IP and AI could enable the company to leapfrog ahead of the psilocybin pack.
But perhaps more importantly, the company’s decision to focus its initial therapeutic efforts in Jamaica, a progressive jurisdiction without the same restrictions as Canada or the United States, provides patients treatment options today, so that the next time a son brings his dying mother for treatment, Dr. Barnhill’s products may help to save her life.
Disclosure: Writers of this article are long AION Stock.