Lauren Hayes: We’re talking today with OncoSil Medical Limited (ASX:OSL), market cap of $50m. OSL is a medical device company for patients with pancreatic cancer. We’re joined today by Non-Executive Director Brian Leedman. Brian was the co-founder of ResApp Health, which was recently acquired by Pfizer for $180m. Brian, welcome back to the network.
Brian Leedman: Lauren, thank you for having me.
Lauren Hayes: Brian, now, first up, can you tell us why you joined the board of OncoSil?
Brian Leedman: Well, OncoSil Medical is a company that I actually co-founded about eight years ago, and I’ve never actually been on the board of the company until recently, but because I was involved in its creation, it’s something that I always wanted to get out and promote, because the technology is a really novel and targeted way to treat solid tumours in specifically pancreatic cancer, which has a very low life expectancy. So, it’s crying out for novel new ways to treat that type of indication.
Lauren Hayes: And what skills do you think you can bring to the board of OncoSil?
Brian Leedman: Well, I think I’ve made a reputation for myself as a company promoter and entrepreneur. And one thing I notice about this company that I co-founded is that the company hasn’t been very active in promoting itself in conferences and in relations exercises. That’s something that I’ve done over many years, so I figured, at the very least, by my coming on the board I could go out there and actually tell this fabulous story. And so I want to appeal to as many investors as possible.
Lauren Hayes: Could you tell us a bit more about the device that OncoSil has?
Brian Leedman: So, OncoSil is… It’s really a combination of BioSilicon, which is elemental silicon, which has this unique structural property. In layman’s terms, it’s sticky, even though it’s only 30 microns in size. And it’s bonded with phosphorus. Silicon is inert, whereas phosphorus in a nuclear reactor becomes the isotope P32, with a half-life of 14 days. And that means that, over 60 days, approximately 60 days, all that radiation is delivered in that period. And so you can endoscopically deliver these particles directly into the solid tumour in your pancreas, and you can actually destroy the tumour from the inside out. The ultimate goal, really, is to take somebody who has non-resectable pancreatic cancer, which means that they can’t be operated on… You can’t cut out your pancreas, so if the tumours are too big, they simply can’t remove it. But if you can shrink that tumour, then you can go from being a non-resectable patient to being a resectable patient. And the best way to treat any cancer is by cutting it out. It’s important to know that pancreatic cancer has the lowest rate of survival of any solid tumour, and typically patients are diagnosed at a time when they’re already inoperable. So, only 15 per cent of patients actually undergo resection at the time of diagnosis. That’s 85 per cent of people who simply cannot be treated with surgery. And that’s a big problem. So, there is a group of patients, a large group, I think it’s 55 per cent, who actually have systemic… pancreatic cancer is now spread throughout their body. And there’s about 35 per cent of patients who fall into the category of, it’s not systemic, it hasn’t spread across their body, it’s still localised within the pancreas, but it’s too big to cut out. And that’s our target market.
Lauren Hayes: Now that OncoSil is approved for sale in Europe, what are the plans to accelerate the sales there?
Brian Leedman: So, I should say that in the time since I first co-founded the company, it’s been through a long process of clinical studies. It was called a PanCO study. They were done in Australia. It showed the safety and efficacy of the product. To then eventually get CE mark approval in Europe, which is only recent, is a huge milestone for this company. Now that we have CE mark approval, it means that we can sell the product in Europe. It is actually now being used in Spain, originally. Now we’ve had a number of patients who’ve already been treated with this product. And we are also now focused in Germany, which is the biggest market for our product in Europe. We have a study that’s going to commence in Germany, which is where they’re going to actually get public healthcare reimbursement for OncoSil. So, that is an important one. There are 25 hospitals signed up for that. And we’ve also recently got private healthcare cover reimbursement in the UK. So, this is effectively bringing the cost of what is otherwise a pretty expensive treatment down into the hands of consumers who can then be able to be recommended by their surgeons to have this treatment for inoperable pancreatic cancer.
Lauren Hayes: And Brian, what can shareholders look forward to over the next 12 months?
Brian Leedman: So, what shareholders can look forward to is basically the adoption of OncoSil as a frontline treatment for pancreatic cancer. And Europe is clearly our focus market for now. The German hospital study as a major catalyst for the expansion of the OncoSil treatment to be used by oncologists, for patients who fall into that category, that 35 per cent of patients who become eligible for OncoSil, because their tumours haven’t spread throughout their body, but they’re too big to cut out at this point. So, we are looking to further adopt that. We’ve got marketing exercises in place to expand the use of OncoSil in Europe. We’re already being used to treat in Spain. Germany is very soon to follow. UK is also another market that will soon begin. We’re also focused on the FDA as well. So, there’ll be news about our progress in terms of getting FDA approval. And I guess, ultimately, this is a sort of technology that lends itself to being acquired one day. Big pharmas are looking for opportunities, and I think that this is ultimately where the company will head.
Lauren Hayes: Brian, thank you so much for your time.
Brian Leedman: And thank you for having me again. Thank you.