Nemus Bioscience Inc. (NMUS) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing cannabis-based therapeutics for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Although Technical420 currently has a Hold rating on shares of NMUS, we see long term potential for the following reasons: 1) Their partnership with the University of Mississippi (UM) offers the company a unique advantage, 2) The data from initial glaucoma testing was positive, 3) The company is focused on five primary illnesses at the preclinical stage, and 4) They are led by a strong management team with a proven track record.
NEMUS has a unique advantage through their partnership with the University of Mississippi
NMUS is currently the sole partner of the University of Mississippi (UM) for the development and commercialization of drugs derived from cannabis extracts. This relationship gives NMUS a unique advantage because UM has held the only contract to cultivate cannabis for research purposes on behalf of the Federal government since 1968. This partnership provides NMUS the opportunity to develop new cannabis based treatments and if a treatment is approved, NMUS can commercialize it.
On October 15, 2014, NMUS signed a renewable option agreement for the rights to explore other routes of delivery of UM5050. This option was renewed on April 1, 2015 for a term of six months. At the end of the option period, NMUS can renew for an additional six months under the same financial terms and conditions.
In March 2015, NMUS entered into a research agreement with UM to begin studies concerning the medical utility of cannabinoids as anti-infective therapeutics for MRSA. The fee payable to UM under the agreement is based on the achievement of certain milestones in the project.
Positive initial data from tests performed on rabbits suffering from glaucoma
In December, NMUS reported that the data presented at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) meeting showed that a pro-drug formulation of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) significantly lowered intra-ocular pressure (IOP) in an open-angle rabbit glaucoma model. The data was presented by Dr. Soumyajit Majumdar, an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics at the University of Mississippi.
The rabbits that received the THC pro-drug saw a greater percentage drop in IOP when compared to timolol, and an even greater percentage drop when compared to pilocarpine. The THC pro-drug resulted in an IOP lowering effect of 45%-50%.
Focusing on five primary debilitating illnesses at the preclinical stage
NMUS intends to focus on five primary targets at the preclinical stage:
- Glaucoma and other optic nerve-related disorders
- Conditions associated with muscle spasticity, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Millions of people around the globe suffer from 1 of these 5 debilitating illnesses. NMUS has the opportunity to generate incremental revenue if they are able to develop FDA approved treatments for these illnesses. The company will benefit from the research being conducted at UM and the human capital provided by the university will prove to be invaluable for the company if the treatments prove to be successful.
Technical420 is especially intrigued by the results of the company’s glaucoma treatment because if it is successful, NMUS will have first mover advantage on the glaucoma market. GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH: NASDAQ) currently has a treatment for muscle spasticity available in over 20 countries (it is also in Stage 3 FDA testing) and they are also close to bringing a cannabis-based treatment for epilepsy to market. When it comes to cannabis derived medicines, however, the glaucoma, MRSA, and anxiety markets are untapped
Led by a strong management team with a proven track record
NMUS is led by CEO John Hollister. Mr. Hollister received his BA in Economics from Stanford University and his MBA from Claremont Graduate University. He brings over 25 years of leadership experience to NMUS ranging from senior leadership positions at big pharma firms to start-ups. His experience includes all facets of the product lifecycle from pre-human to phase IV management and leading cross-functional teams. He has experience leading multiple pharmaceutical product launches at companies such as SmithKline Beecham and Amgen.
Brian Murphy, MD, MPH, MBA is the company’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Murphy earned his MD, MPH, and MS degrees from New York Medical College and graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health. He earned his MBA at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Dr. Murphy has more than 15 years experience in drug development and evaluation, from both an academic and industry perspective. He most recently served as the Chief Medical Officer of Eiger Biosciences. Dr. Murphy is board-certified in internal medicine. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center and served as Chief Medical Resident in the Boston University program. Dr. Murphy went on to complete parallel fellowship tracks at Harvard Medical School, one in internal medicine/clinical epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the other in medical ethics addressing issues of distributive justice and access to care.
Elizabeth Berecz serves as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. She received her BA in Economics from Stanford University and a MA in Sports Management from University of San Francisco. Elizabeth is a seasoned financial executive with over 20 years experience holding senior level positions in both private and public companies. She started her career at Price Waterhouse in Silicon Valley where she spent five years auditing several high profile public companies in the technology industry. She then spent 10 years holding key leadership positions in various publicly held companies including Quantum Corporation, Business Objects, and Excite.
Douglas Ingram, former President of Allergan Inc., serves as the Vice Chairman of NMUS’s Board of Directors. Ingram also agreed to serve as the Chair of the Compensation and Compliance Committee of the Board of Directors. Ingram brings nearly 20 years of pharmaceutical leadership experience to the company’s board. During his tenure as President of Allergan, Mr. Ingram led a team that effected a major restructuring of the company, reducing expenses by over $500 million dollars while driving enhanced sales and earnings growth, all of which significantly improved the market capitalization of the company. Prior to joining Allergan, Mr. Ingram was an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP from 1988 to 1996. Mr. Ingram received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1988.
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