Gregory Moss Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Photonz explains their solution to the increasing demand for EPA which doesn’t involve fish oil




Episode Loading...




PharmaTelevision requires Javascript enabled and Adobe Flash Player to watch our programmes. If you do not have Flash installed, you can download it for free from the Adobe Flash homepage.

Improve your Internet experience and start watching exciting new video content.

Video title: Gregory Moss Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Photonz explains their solution to the increasing demand for EPA which doesn’t involve fish oil
Released on: May 04, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
Share/save this page:
Email
Bookmark
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Follow us:
RSS
Twitter
  • Summary
  • Transcript
  • Participants
  • Company
In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Gregory Moss-Smith, CEO of Photonz
Photonz's EPA product
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO-Europe in Milan, in spring 2011. On this show I have Greg Moss Smith, who is Chief Executive of a New Zealand company called Photonz Corporation, welcome.
Gregory Moss Smith:
Hi Fintan.
Fintan Walton:
Greg, Photonz Corporation is a quite interesting corporation, it's in the area of manufacturing could you tell us the Photonzstory?
Gregory Moss Smith:
Well I think simply there is a growing demand for one of the omega-3 fatty acids a thing called EPA as an active ingredient in pharmaceuticals, and currently the only source for this high purity EPA is from fish oil which is a limited and fragile resource and the trick that Photonz has come up with is how to produce this high purity EPA by fermentation, so we just brew it like beer.
Technology of production
Fintan Walton:
So you've obviously developed intellectual property and know-how around this method to produce EPA, so what did you actually have to do to be able to come up with a relatively strong resilient resource to produce the EPA?
Gregory Moss Smith:
Well I think a lot of people would know that they can get their omega-3 from fish and from fish oil, but a lot of people probably don't know that the fish don't make it, it's actually made by a marine, the microscopic marine plant microalgae and what we've done has go out and select one of these strains of microalgae which is particularly immutable to purification the trick isn't so much beyond to produce a lot of EPA its beyond to produce a lot of EPA you can purify. So we selected a strain which had a fatty acid compensation which was immutable to purification and then we've improved that strain by pushing up its EPA content and just as importantly about pushing down the content of interfering molecules so that we do the purification, we spent all this money on extra fermentation which you don't do with fish oil, but our downstream purification is much more efficient and so we end up with the cost of goods very comparable to that of the fish oil extract product.
Fintan Walton:
And when you selected the strain was that just through simple genetic manipulation, was it genetic engineering or was it just a standard genetic selection?
Gregory Moss Smith:
It's just a strain development there was a, I think the founder of the company's real insight was to understand enough about the biology of the different strains of microalgae to decide which one was a good candidate for this, and in fact it came down to a small number that could be good for this and basically ignored by other people who tried to do this because in the beginning the EPA content itself is not as high as some others, but you've got to think about it from the point of end-to-end EPA productivity and when you take that into account there is only one or two strains which make seems to try and do this work.
Fintan Walton:
So where are you in the development of your manufacturing, are you up to full scale yet or?
Gregory Moss Smith:
No, no we work at prototype industrial scale so we are doing 600 liter fermentation and we are in a position where we expect about to handover the process to the CMOs in July, August this year as soon we are able to seek some amenable terms. So we expect to start that industrial scale up later this year and the expectation is well a supply qualification batches by 2012.
Demand and potential buyers of product
Fintan Walton:
And you already know who the potential buyers of this product is?
Gregory Moss Smith:
We know some of them and there are some and one of these drugs has actually been on market since 1990 in Japan and of course they have expanding demand because they are taking that product over the counter, supply risk applies for them as well. We now see in the US another company in Phase III trials now or with Phase III results this new drug is go on sound 2012 almost for certain and there is another raft of smaller companies working with earlier stage products. So we are already looking to position our product as a generic API that can be substituted into this high purity EPA drugs as insurance policy against collection, supply or inconsistent season supply from the fish oil source.
Fintan Walton:
So are you competing then on price?
Gregory Moss Smith:
No everybody's hope we don't end up in that position now I think we've got a unique difference here we can secure the supply for our customers you know we are their protection against the collapse in the fish oil resource or competing demands for the fish oil resource and that may (indiscernable) the price of premium. So we expect to charge a higher price in the fish oil product not outrageously higher, but something which reflects the additional benefit of our source.
Fintan Walton:
So Photonz is a private company it's backed by venture capital could you name some of the backers?
Gregory Moss Smith:
It's a combination of venture capital and private investors. The venture capital funds that are involved is, the main one is K One W One which is it's a Stephen Tindall's fund it's got very broad range of investments, but many of them have a ecological sustainability focus and he sees that in our company. The other major VC is a co-funded arrangement between Cure Kids Ventures and a New Zealand Government Fund I think (indiscernable) and after that we are really into large private investors.
Future plans
Fintan Walton:
So where does a company like Photonz go, I mean obviously you are still at the period at the point where you are scaling up toward for production through the CMO at this stage, are you gonna look to diversify into other manufacturing areas?
Gregory Moss Smith:
No I think this is a company maker, I think if you want to look around from the example of what Photonz can be there is a company recently acquired by DSM of the United States company called Martek [PharmaDeals ID = 39357]. Martek what we've done, what we are trying to do for EPA, the Martek has done for related fatty acids a thing called DHA that company was bought for over billion US dollars just recently, had annual sales around 400 million and this is a whole company we built of this product, I'd further rather have the companies may have one product or one product chain and marketed into multiple segments then keep investing money in new product development all the time, this is a manufacturing play this is not a proprietary pharmaceutical company.
Fintan Walton:
And its future is what to be acquired?
Gregory Moss Smith:
Not well, I guess ultimately you could say that because that's what happened to Martek it's not necessarily the ultimate destination, but if you say this company is focuses on a single class of product then it's quite likely to a much larger company will think I've got a portfolio of products my business is in a portfolio I can add this to my portfolio, so yes it becomes an acquisition target, we are not afraid of that that's not a bad way to go either you know.
Fintan Walton:
Gregory Moss Smith, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Gregory Moss Smith:
Thank you Fintan.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures. After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Gregory Moss Smith
Chief Executive Officer
Mr Gregory Moss Smith has 15 years of general management experience as a senior executive in the biopharmaceuticals sector and has been Chief Executive Officer of Photonz since late 2008. Previously part of the management team that integrated four companies to form Novozymes Biopharma, he served as Global Sales Director for the newly formed business. He was also responsible for establishing the company's worldwide sales organization based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Greg was previously the head of commercial operations of the successful Australian public biotechnology company, GroPep Ltd, where he built a team responsible for sales, marketing, business development, general legal and intellectual property management. He managed the company's commercial operations from 1997 through to the IPO in 2000 and its subsequent acquisition by Novozymes A/S in 2007. Greg's prior roles have included General Manager of Contract Manufacturing at GroPep Limited, Alternate Director of TGR Biosciences Pty Ltd, Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Tissue Growth & Repair, Director & General Manager of Independent Biologics Ltd, Facilitator of the (NZ) National Science Strategy for Fisheries & Aquaculture and he was the founding manager of the Technology for Business Growth programmed at the Foundation for Research, Science & Technology (NZ).
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialization.
Photonz Corporation
Photonz Corporation is a biotechnology company producing the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acidEPA from marine microalgae. EPA is a critical ingredient in regulated pharmaceutical products addressing the cardiovascular disease drug market. Pharmaceuticals using EPA as an active ingredient are experiencing high growth. Previously, EPA could only be sourced from fish oil. Our product is designed to insure manufacturers in a multi-billion dollar market against the risk of reliance on natural fisheries as their main source of EPA.