Scopus Biopharma to raise $25m on Nasdaq

Morris Laster Photo: Eyal Izhar

The company's drugs are based on the body's endocannabinoid system, but not on the cannabis plant.

Israeli company Scopus BioPharma, founded in 2017 and managed by co-chairpersons Dr. Morris Laster and Joshua Lamstein, has published a prospectus for a $25 million Nasdaq offering of shares and mainly options. The underwriter for the offering is Benchmark.

Scopus BioPharma develops drugs based on the body's endocannabinoid system, which responds to cannabis. The company's drugs, however, are not based on the cannabis plant. Scopus BioPharma develops synthetic drugs, and wants to register them for marketing on the convention drug registration track of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the corresponding agencies in other countries.

Scopus BioPharma develops drugs originating at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The company cooperates strategically with Hebrew University's Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, led by Prof. Joseph Tam.

The company's leading product is an anesthetic combined with the CBD ingredient, also found in cannabis, in order to reduce the dosage of the opiate ingredients in the anesthetic ingredient. Opiates are addictive pain relievers, and addiction to these pain relievers is assuming the dimensions of a deadly epidemic, especially in the US. Scopus BioPharma believes that reducing the dosage of opiates during anesthesia can also facilitate the use of less ingredient following surgery, thereby reducing the risk of addiction. Scopus BioPharma is currently funding a $115,000-proof of concept (POC) trial of the product at Hebrew University.

The company simultaneously invested $245,000 in developing new products derived from active ingredients in cannabis. Combined with existing drugs or drugs in development, these products will be used to improve activity or reduce side effects of the existing drugs. Together with Hebrew University, Scopus BioPharma is also examining the potential of drugs based on ingredients found in cannabis other than CBD and THC for uses such as reducing appetite, relieving pain, relieving convulsions, preventing psychotic attacks, etc.

The company signed a licensing agreement with the NIH to develop a drug for a disease named systematic sclerosis, an autoimmune disease featuring skin scars. The drug is an ingredient that alters the body's cannabinoid receptors (locations in the body that respond to the active ingredients in cannabis, and which were actually created in order to respond to ingredients that the body itself manufactures - the endocannabinoids).

Scopus BioPharma has $546,000 in cash, and burned $288,000 in the first quarter of 2019. $2 million has been invested in the company, including $1.8 million by New York-based investment bank HCFP, which holds 14.6% of the company.

Laster, Scopus BioPharma's CEO, is known to the medical sector as a senior executive in the medical sector in drug development companies Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, BiolineRX, and Kitov Pharmaceuticals. He is currently a managing partner in OurCrowd's life sciences fund and a director in medical companies in which the fund invests.

Lamstein is a former senior executive at HCFP, which made the main investment in Scopus Biopharma so far. He currently manages a $100 million venture capital fund. He is also a senior consultant in the John Snow life sciences consultancy firm.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 19, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Morris Laster Photo: Eyal Izhar
Morris Laster Photo: Eyal Izhar
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