It is one thing to have a drug which shows activity against an infection, virus or disease, it is another to deliver that drug effectively. Lexaria (NASDAQ:LEXX) is in the drug delivery business. Whether it is an anti-viral like COVID-19 focused Remdesivir and Ebastine or Cannabinoids including for Hypertension and Central Nervous System disorders, Lexaria’s DehydraTECH™ technology has the potential to enhance the performance of those drugs.
The technology itself is patented and more patents are coming as it is adapted to different applications. The basic design is described by the company on its website as “involving mixing the active ingredient as a delivery “payload” together with certain fatty acids, infusing the mixture into a substrate material, and then using controlled dehydration synthesis processing to associate the payload and fatty acids together at a molecular level before integrating the newly-combined molecules into end product production across a range of dosage form factors.” How the dehydration synthesis is accomplished is Lexaria’s secret sauce and undisclosed intellectual property.
Lexaria is able to change up the fatty acids used so the “payload” is delivered through either the liver – using medium chain fatty acids – and processed in the hepatic system; or instead through the lymphatic system – using long chain fatty acids – avoiding the liver and entering the general circulation very quickly via the lymphatic lacteals. Having two, distinct, pathways into the general circulation gives DehydraTECH™ technology tremendous flexibility.
All of which means that Lexaria’s technology can be applied to a wide variety of pharmaceutical applications including a broad range of fat-soluble active molecules and drugs such as oral cannabinoids, oral nicotine, anti-viral drugs, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs), vitamins, hormone treatments utilizing estrogen or testosterone and phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE5).
The technology is being tested on COVID-19 related anti-virals. The technology has also shown efficacy in treating high blood pressure using cannabidiol (CBD). CBD on its own is known to have poor absorption characteristics. Typically only about 6% of what is orally ingested actually finds its way into blood circulation. Lexaria’s technology has been shown to increase this delivery by between 100% to 500%.
The Lexaria approach to the various markets for its technology is to partner with existing drug manufacturers and licence its technology for specific applications. Hypothetically, a company producing Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) could licence Lexaria’s technology to produce a line of “fast acting” pain relievers. Or a line of pain relievers which were directed at the lymphatic system, by-passing the liver and the liver problems NSAIDS are know to cause.
DehydraTECH™ technology improves the bio-availability and therefore performance of a wide array of pharmacological substances. Which means that it makes sense for drug companies, large and small, to test and, eventually, licence the technology or purchase a DehydraTECH™ enabled powder or liquid to include in their product. Which, in turn, means that the company has actual revenue: $487,662 in Q1 2021.
From an investor’s perspective, Lexaria becomes more interesting each time its technology is tested by a potential end user. Whether Lexaria uses the DehydraTECH™ technology to sell infused powder ingredients or licencing the technology directly to B2B clients, each sale creates a persistent revenue stream.
To create those sales and entice prospective partners, Lexaria is engaged in a variety of R&D programs testing the efficacy and safety of DehydraTECH™ technology in multiple use cases. As the company put it in a June 9 update press release, “Lexaria relies on applied R&D programs to generate confirmatory results and data evidencing improved drug delivery characteristics that enable pursuit of commercial opportunities and/or corporate relationships. As such, Lexaria considers advancing these applied R&D studies to be a vital early step towards its goal of establishing commercial relationships with potential industry partners to utilize DehydraTECH within their existing product lines or in the development of new product lines.”
For the market this R&D program means a steady stream of press releases as the results of the trials become available. There should also be releases as particular companies test the DehydraTECH™ technology and still more as companies licence the technology. In the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, the terms of a licence and even the company to which the licence is granted may be considered confidential, proprietary information.
In 2021 Lexaria has been trading on Nasdaq between $4.50 and $9.46 per share. Currently, it trades at $6.75 with only 5.104 million shares outstanding for a market cap of roughly US 34 million dollars. Pocket change for even a mid-sized biosciences company. The fact is that as the DehydraTECH™ technology is tested and proven effective, there is a very good chance that a larger company will make a bid for Lexaria.