Calgary, Alberta – June 17, 2020 – Willow Biosciences Inc. (“Willow” or the “Company“) (TSX: WLLW; OTCQB: CANSF) is pleased to announce that it has further accelerated its path to commercialization following continued scale-up development success and the addition of multiple new cannabinoids for production. Willow is a Canadian biotechnology company creating high purity, plant-derived compounds for the global pharmaceutical, health and wellness and consumer packaged goods industries.
“Willow’s scientific and operational success to date has solidified the use of yeast fermentation as a production platform,” said Trevor Peters, Willow’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our scientific discoveries over the past 14 months have contributed to the development of not one, but five different cannabinoids and our pilot project production samples expected to be available in Q3 of 2020 will make Willow the first to biosynthetically produce material amounts of cannabinoids. We expect to offer a portfolio of ultra-pure, pharmaceutical grade quality cannabinoids by the end of 2021. As we transition from a research-focused company to a production company, we are investigating a variety of end markets, including pharmaceutical and consumer products. We see significant potential in consumer packaged goods for the North American recreation market, where interest for high quality ingredients such as ours is strong.”
Accelerated Pilot Scale Production
The Company announced it has commenced scale-up in March of this year with its development partner, Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (“AMRI“). During this time, Willow has made significant improvements to both its proprietary cannabinoid-producing yeast strains and production process at 20 liter scale. Having reached its development milestones with AMRI ahead of schedule, and due to interest received from consumer packaged goods companies in the North American recreational market, Willow has expedited its 500 liter pilot from Q4 2020 to early Q3 2020, and expects to be in a position to deliver samples of cannabigerol (“CBG“) and cannabidiol (“CBD“) in Q3 and Q4, respectively. This success puts the Company’s pilot six months ahead of schedule, largely driven by the innovation, commitment and expertise of its industry-leading science team.
In addition to progressing its work in developing CBD producing yeast strains, the Company has developed a process to produce CBG, which is a promising cannabinoid with early research suggesting it has anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. While CBG cannot be produced in appreciable quanitities in the plant, Willow’s proprietary yeast production process is expected to be able to produce commercial quantities. Willow anticipates being able to commercialize CBG in the first half of 2021 and the Company is in the process of selecting its manufacturing locations, from which it can reach both local and world markets. While the market for CBG is still developing, the Company believes there is substantial nascent demand for the product, which cannot be met by plant extracts alone. Willow sees significant potential in CBG for people seeking the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant.
The success of the Company’s proprietary yeast producton platform has enabled Willow to develop strains for producing additional high value cannabinoids. The Company has developed yeast strains and methodologies that allow it to produce significant quantities of cannabigerovarin (“CBGV“) at lab scale. Based on the accelerated pace of Willow’s CBG and CBD programs and the initial success with CBGV, the Company has allocated resources to the development of commercial processes for CBGV, cannabidivarin (“CBDV“) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (“THCV“), all three of which are collectively referred to as the “Varin cannabinoids”. The Varin cannabinoids are considered minor or rare cannabinoids in that they occur naturally in cannabis plants at less than one percent of biomass, making them challenging and costly to produce via cultivation. Despite the lack of supply, there are advanced clinical trials and significant recreational interest due to the possible therapeutic benefits of the unique properties of the Varin cannabinoids. Willow expects to be in a position to start commercialization of the Varin cannabinoids in the second half of 2021.
Growing Intellectual Property Portfolio
Willow continues to strengthen its intellectual property portfolio and aggressively protect proprietary rights on significant discoveries. Since the beginning of 2020, the Company has filed multiple patent applications covering a diverse collection of more than 200 novel genes that help to increase cannabinoid production and purity in yeast. The majority of the discovered genes originate from our proprietary genomic databases that are expected to lead to multiple additional discoveries and patents throughout 2020 and beyond.
About Willow Biosciences Inc.
Willow is a Canadian biotechnology company based in Calgary, Alberta, that produces high purity, plant-derived compounds that provide building blocks for the global pharmaceutical, health and wellness, and consumer packaged goods industries. Willow’s current focus is in the production of cannabinoids for the treatment for pain, anxiety, obesity, brain disorders, among other significant indications. Willow’s science team has a proven track record of developing manufacturing technologies for high purity compounds in pain and cancer treatments. Willow’s manufacturing process creates a consistent, scalable and sustainable product that allows for the discovery and development of new life changing drugs.
For further information, please visit our website at www.willowbio.com or contact:
President and Chief Executive Officer
T: (403) 669-4848
E: firstname.lastname@example.org Troy Talkkari, CFA
Vice President, Corporate Development
T: (403) 618-1117
E: email@example.com 3655 36th Street NW
Calgary, AB T2L 1Y8
This news release may include forward-looking statements including opinions, assumptions, estimates and the Company’s assessment of future plans and operations, and, more particularly, statements concerning: Willow’s revised milestone projections, including the timing of pilot projects, the delivery of sample cannabinoids and commercialization scale-up; discussions with consumer-packaged goods companies and manufacturing partners; expected therapeutic benefits from cannabinoids; expected patent filings; expected demand for cannabinoids; the market size potential of the synthetic cannabinoid industry; Willow’s entry into new global markets; and the business plan of the Company, generally, including cannabinoid research and production. When used in this news release, the words “will,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intent,” “may,” “project,” “should,” and similar expressions are intended to be among the statements that identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are founded on the basis of expectations and assumptions made by the Company which include, but are not limited to: the success of Willow’s strategic partnerships, including the development of future strategic partnerships; the financial strength of the Company; the ability of the Company to fund its business plan using cash on hand and existing resources; the market for Willow’s products; the ability of the Company to obtain and retain applicable licences; and the successful implementation of Willow’s production and commercialization strategy, generally. Forward-looking statements are subject to a wide range of risks and uncertainties, and although the Company believes that the expectations represented by such forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such expectations will be realized. Any number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements including, but not limited to, risks associated with: the cannabinoid industry in general; the success of the Company’s research and development strategies; infringement on intellectual property; failure to benefit from partnerships or successfully integrate acquisitions; actions and initiatives of federal and provincial governments and changes to government policies and the execution and impact of these actions, initiatives and policies; import/export and research restrictions for cannabinoid-based operations; the size of the medical-use and adult-use cannabinoid market; competition from other industry participants; adverse U.S., Canadian and global economic conditions; adverse global events and public-health crises, including the current COVID-19 outbreak; failure to comply with certain regulations; departure of key management personnel or inability to attract and retain talent; and other factors more fully described from time to time in the reports and filings made by the Company with securities regulatory authorities. Please refer to the AIF and the MD&A for additional risk factors relating to Willow, which can be accessed either on Willow’s website at www.willowbio.com or under the Company’s profile on www.sedar.com.
The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as of the date hereof and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law. The forward-looking statements contained herein are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.