Argent BioPharma MD on being a meaningful breakthrough drug discovery company (ASX:RGT)

Argent BioPharma Ltd (ASX:RGT) Chief Executive Officer Roby Zomer caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the restructuring of the company, product portfolio, the appointment of Dr. Shlomo Sadoun, and the outlook for the group.

Q1: First off, congratulations on successfully completing a comprehensive restructuring process. Could you just tell us why that was, what’s been undertaken and what’s different?

A1: We completed a very long and complex restructure of the company, mostly in order to get ourselves into focus in what really matters, and where we can really bring value and benefit to the market within the pharmaceutical sector. So the company was, before that, a little bit of several things, and we wanted to get ourselves into the focus of where we were able to capitalise our knowledge and the research that we conducted.

By bringing, basically, new investor portfolio that are understanding in the pharma industry, we restructured the company to be focused as a biopharma company, looking on the unmet medical need and becoming a drug discovery company. This went not just with the capital change, but also with a name change, and also bringing new advisory members that will take us as a pharma company.

So, the whole restructure was basically to refocus and reshape the company as a drug discovery biopharma company.

Q2: Could you remind us of your product portfolio and how it’s performing?

A2: So, our portfolio contains two groups of drugs, one of them is in the CNS, in the Central Nerve System area, starting with CannEpil, the treatment of drug resistant epilepsy, also known as refractory epilepsy.

This drug is running its phase two trials as we speak, but also is being available through the early patient access scheme in Ireland, and also here in the UK, and basically having a very big impact on this patient here in the UK, as we saw in some of the publication over the past year. This is the first drug to the market and continues to be in our drug development and also in our early patient access scheme.

The second group of treatments that we are focusing on is immunology and the autoimmune system, where we have the second product that is in the market called CimetrA.

It started as a product to treat COVID-19 symptoms back in 2020, when the pandemic was in its prime and through the preclinical trials, where we studied about the mechanism of action, and through the phase two studies that we conducted in Israel, in India, and in Europe, we were able to demonstrate the agnostic behaviour of the drug and its mechanism of action as an immune modulation treatment and suppression of the pro-inflammatory reaction of the body. Therefore we are agnostic to the cause of the pro-inflammatory, which also known as the cytokine storm.

Therefore we are not just a COVID-19 treatment, but we are actually an acute lung injury treatment that can be caused by COVID or by any other viral infection, as we are treating the mechanism of the body. We are modulating the mRNA in our protein and suppressing the pro-inflammatory, and this is the second group of products that we are moving forward.

Aside from these two leading products that are already in advanced clinical development, CimetrA finishes phase two study and looking to move forward into the phase three step, and CannEpil running phase two studies, both of them are available in the market through different early and special access schemes.

We have other products like CogniCann that are designed to improve the quality of living in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients and completed its phase two studies in Australia a couple of years ago and is part of our future portfolio. Our product IrniCann for brain cancer, where we were able to demonstrate the modulation of the stem cell, again part of the immunology, and targeting tumour cells through the stem cells and doing this process without invention into the brain.

We have vast portfolios that will keep our relevancy as a drug discovery and a biopharma company also in the future.

So as I say, our two leading drugs are CannEpil and CimetrA with more products in our pipeline to come in the future once we complete the registration of these two leading products.

Q3: You recently announced that Dr. Shlomo Sadoun joined Argent BioPharma’s advisory board. Could you tell us more about that?

A3: As part of the restructure and to reinforce our advisory board and our management, we recruited Dr. Shlomo Sadoun, who saw our company and is coming with vast experience, also in orphan drug medicine, and has a long history of running pharmaceutical companies.

He is going to help us with our strategy of introducing our drugs to the market, to refine the strategy where we are looking on unmet medical needs, and in particular on orphan drug designation to some of our existing and future products. He is the first to join our advisory board, and more to join as we’re reinforcing ourselves as a proper biopharma company.

So, again his strategy advising is in the orphan drug and in to building our entry portfolio of product to the market. He’s coming with a vast experience in these two fields and this will be part of the reinforcement of refining our drug discovery moving forward so we can save costs and improve of our value but also to find out how we are improving our early patient access scheme and increasing our footprint, not just in the UK and Ireland but in other European territories.

Q4: Just looking forward, how would you describe the outlook for Argent BioPharma?

A4: So, the outlook of the company is on its very simple definition.

We are a drug discovery company, we find treatment for unmet medical needs, focusing on the CNS and autoimmune indication, utilising nanotechnology, and multidisciplinary approach so we can bring breakthrough and unique IP as a new drug to the market so keeping innovation for unmet medical needs.

I think this is a core element of the company so we are being able to bring an affordable and accessible drug for patients that at the moment do not have a proper solution for their illnesses and we can see a real change in the patient as we move forward.

So, it’s improving their quality of living, giving them a treatment for something that was untreated until now, and by that being a meaningful breakthrough drug discovery company.

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