RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Isosceles Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Wilmington company developing several formulations of synthetic cannabidiol to treat pain and inflammatory diseases, has named William D. Humphries as its chief executive officer.
Humphries is an accomplished executive leader in the pharmaceutical industry with a proven track record leading several global pharmaceutical companies. A Raleigh native, Humphries served as president of Ortho Dermatologics, a subsidiary of Bausch Health Companies. He has also held global executive leadership positions at Merz North America, GlaxoSmithKline, Stiefel, and Allergan.
During the interview with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Brett Lanier, president and founder of Isosceles, said, “Bill will be instrumental in guiding Isosceles as we pursue Series A funding to complete preclinical studies and submit our IND later this year.”
Boosting absorption is key
While cannabinoids have been touted as helpful for many ailments, ”it has very limited bioavailability when administered orally and results in liver toxicity at higher doses” according to Lanier. The company’s intravenous and transdermal delivery systems boost absorption from 6% when taken orally, to 100%, while avoiding liver toxicity, Lanier explains.
The company’s cannabidiol (CBD) is synthesized in a lab, not derived from a plant. With a background in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, Lanier notes, “Agricultural products can have many impurities. Even aspirin — originally made by extracting a precursor (salicin) from willow tree bark — is now completely manufactured synthetically.”
“We’re looking to reduce the uses of opioids — especially in pediatric patients — as we work on advances in our delivery system to allow self-administration at home,” Lanier said. He added that the company is working to meet FDA requirements to proceed to the next step. “We hope to do safety tests on humans in 12 months.”
In addition to raising a significant seed round of an undisclosed amount primarily from North Carolina investors, Isosceles took the top award in the NC BIONEER Venture Challenge in 2020 and received a $20,000 investment and a 12-month tenancy at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Randall Johnson, executive director of NCBiotech’s Southeastern Office, whom Lanier describes as a “mentor,” said “Isosceles is fortunate to have the crucial mix of a great idea that meets an existing market need, a strong team headed by an exceptional entrepreneurial leader, an impressive rollout and growth plan, and attractiveness for raising equity capital.
“The company’s president, Brett Lanier, possesses a flexible, go-getter attitude and unceasing drive that bode well for the success of the venture. Those attributes were on full display when he participated in, and won, the inaugural NC BIONEER Venture Challenge in Wilmington last year.”
He added, “Brett and the team have made dramatic progress with the company over the past year. Now, adding a CEO to the team is the next logical step to add the capacity needed to reach the company’s next layer of milestones, including with fundraising.”
Lanier said that Humphries’ addition to the team will expedite their efforts for Series A funding and allow them to submit an IND and initiate Phase I clinical trials.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center