Intelligence > NAI Interview > Interviews with Jon Stern, CEO of Cohbar Inc.

Interviews with Jon Stern, CEO of Cohbar Inc.

By Editing NAI
12/15/2015 9:26 p.m.

NAI500 is delighted to spend some time with the CEO of Cohbar Inc. (TSXV:COB.U), one of the emerging life science companies in the pre-clinical stage that tackles aging related diseases.   

  1. Jon, can you explain a bit more on your company’s core technology, developing MDP (Mitochondrial-Derived Peptides) to treat diseases?  Is this a new approach in the industry?

MDP’s originate from the mitochondria, which produce the energy within our cells.  Over the last 15 years our founders have discovered that MDP’s, whose levels decrease over our lifetime, play a major role in aging and disease.  (our founders are where our company Cohbar originated from)

For instance, our founders, one of whom has conducted leading scientific studies of people living to age 100 and beyond, have shown that high levels of certain MDP’s may be protective from many age related diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative.  Our founders recognized the medical need was so great and that the MDP discoveries needed to be translated into drugs to benefit millions of people.  This brought about the formation of CohBar where our scientific team is focused on taking our Founders discoveries and optimizing them into therapeutic drug candidates for the treatment of these age-related diseases.

CohBar’s approach is unique in that is it harnessing the power of the bodies naturally produced MDP’s as a basis for producing more effective therapeutics for patient suffering from these major diseases. CohBar’s approach also has the potential to produce a therapeutic drug candidate that has an impact on multiple age-related diseases at the same time.

  • There are a few companies focused on producing therapeutics targeting improvement or repair of the mitochondria, but this approach is primarily directly towards non-age related, orphan and mitochondrial dysfunction diseases. 

 

 

  1. A successful life science company always has good people, especially the scientific minds, who are the main driver(s) of the R & D for Cohbar?  Any notable advisors to your team?  Tell us more about their background

First of all, our founders are all renowned scientists in the fields of aging, metabolic diseases, the biology of mitochondria and drug development-- we have a very strong and deep scientific team

Dr. Nir Barzilai:   He is the Professor of Genetics and Director of the Institute for Aging at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Nathan Shock and Ellison Foundation award recipient for his work. He leads the breakthrough centenarian study I mentioned.

Dr. Pinchas Cohen: He is the Dean of the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. National Institute for Aging Eureka award winner for his discoveries and work in the area of mitochondrial biology

Drs. Barzilai and Cohen awarded over $30M in research grants to their academic labs in recognition and in support of the breakthrough nature and importance of their discoveries

Dr. David Sinclair: He is the Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, he was once selected as Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People

Dr. John Amatruda: He is a Former SVP and Franchise Head for Diabetes and Obesity at Merck Research Laboratories. He has led the development of Januvia, one of the Merck’s $6B/year blockbuster diabetes drug.

Our CohBar in-house scientific team is led by Dr. Kenneth Cundy, and his resume is as impressive as others:

  • Former CSO and SVP for Xenoport, Inc. (NASDAQ:XNPT), Gilead Sciences, Sterling
  • Patents/Publications:  46 US Patents, +100 International Patents, 77 Papers
  • FDA Applications:  15 INDs, 6 NDAs
  • Drugs Developed: 15 -  including Hepsera, Tamiflu, Viread, Horizant, etc
  • Drugs Invented and marketed - Tenofovir DF for HIV (Viread, Truvada, Atripla), sold over $30B;  Horizant for Shingles and RLS
  1. I believe you have expanded to a new lab from Pasadena to Menlo Park earlier this year, tell us more about the new facility there.

In April of this year CohBar opened a new fully equipped state of the art laboratory in Northern California/Silicon Valley to support our drug development efforts where we have also assembled a highly skilled and experienced team of scientists and researchers. Under the guidance of Dr. Cundy our Chief Scientific Officer, the laboratory focuses primarily on conducting invitro cell biology studies and managing invivo animal studies with our academic partners and at CRO facilities.   

  1. How do you evaluate your company at this stage now?  Do you think you are undervalued?  Why so?

CohBar is very well positioned for advancement with:

break-through discoveries, a highly experienced and successful scientific team, a multiple drug candidate pipeline targeting huge multi-billion dollar market opportunities, and with current and future financial requirements supported by our successful IPO in early 2015

I believe we are undervalued considering the over $30M in grant funding supporting the development of CohBar’s lead MDP’s, the strength of our scientific team and the huge need and growth potential for successful therapeutics targeting our lead indications.

Also, for a valuation perspective based on revenue potential let’s consider drugs currently on the market that target the same therapeutic indication as CohBar’s lead drug candidate: type 2 Diabetes--- This market generates $40B in annual drug sales growing to over $60B by 2020 where leading drugs Januvia and Victoza are pulling in $6B and nearly $3B annually. You can see that if CohBar is successful in creating a new drug for this market, the value of the company will likely escalate dramatically.

Another way to look at our valuation is based on the attractiveness of companies in the mitochondrial space to pharmaceutical companies. Even small companies like Gencia, targeting orphan indications affecting a small subset of the population with a single drug candidate have accomplished substantial partnership deals with pharma companies. Just last month they announced such a deal with Takeda for up to $500M.

  1. Any other peers or competitors that you can build your model around?  Or you are the lone player in the specific field?

Our business model is quite well-established for biotechs today. We see ourselves as a pipeline drug discovery and development company aiming to produce successful results in clinical trials and to partner with pharmaceutical companies at the appropriate and opportune time.

As for our financial model, Mitochondria focused therapeutics is a rapidly emerging market in a potential breakthrough arena which is responding to a need for better more effective new drugs and approaches.

While there are some companies out there developing mitochondrial targeted therapeutics like Gencia, we are a leader in the development of mitochondria-based therapeutics, which is garnering attention in publications, in the media and from pharmaceutical companies not only for our founders discoveries but for the potential for these drugs to have a huge impact on major age-related diseases.

  1. What would be some of the milestones in 2016 that investors should look for regarding Cohbar?

A major milestone for CohBar in 2016 we expect will be the candidate selection for our lead mitochondria-based therapeutic and initiation of IND enabling studies

  1. For the trading point of view, you were listed in TSXVenture under COB.U, can you explain a bit about this arrangement?  Now that you are also approved for trading at OTCQX, will you convert those TSXV listing to a more conventional CAD trading down the road? 

We are listed on the TSXVenture exchange under the COB.U ticker symbol which allows our stock price to be listed in US dollars. There are a number of important factors why we elected to trade in US dollars including: our company is US based, the majority of our shareholders are in the US and the Company is an SEC reporting company in the US (which covers all SEDAR reporting requirements). It is also an advantage for the company to be traded in US dollars as this encourages more international investors, in the US and beyond, to become shareholders in CohBar while it is traded on a Canadian exchange.  We have yet to consider converting the TSXV listing to CAD, which does not seem to be affecting our Canadian shareholder base that purchased over 11m shares in our 2015 IPO.  We are a very unique opportunity as a Canadian listed US company.  

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