Liberty Leaf Holdings (LIB.C) acquires psychedelic R&D firm Nova Mentis Biotech

Liberty Leaf Holdings (LIB.C) made a right-turn into psychedelics with their latest acquisition of Nova Mentis Biotech today.

Now that mushrooms have started gathering serious attention, there are plenty of companies out there throwing their research and development bucks into finding what psilocybin and its underlying chemical agent, psilocin, can do for their bottom line. In Nova’s case, their research raison d’etre is focused presently on investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of psilocybin in metabolic health issues like obesity and diabetes.

“Recent scientific advancement coupled with shifting opinions amongst, both the medical and general communities, at large regarding psychedelics including psilocybin make it a sector worthy of investment. Since our shift into cannabis in 2014, and our subsequent investment in Just Kush Enterprises Ltd. — now a holder of three Health Canada cannabis licences — we have focused on emerging trends and shifting public awareness of natural-based compounds for health and wellness, I believe this acquisition compliments our current legal cannabis portfolio and provides stakeholders with an early entrance in a new flourishing market,” said Will Rascan, president and chief executive officer of Liberty.

Specifically, Nova is taking aim at type 2 diabetes here. The so-called lifestyle related disease.

It’s a right kick in the head how relatively easy it is to both get and stay fat when your brain’s not pumping out the serotonin. Depression has been called the common cold of mental illness, but even the common cold if left untreated will kill you. Add to that the above statistics about obesity, and the two feed on each other. McDonalds becomes easier than cooking, and sometimes the idea of getting out of bed to go into the kitchen and scramble another stale egg is unthinkable when the pizza parlour will deliver right to your door. You’ll even get a little dopamine kick from the sugary crust, but it won’t last. It never does.

Nova’s research is going after these two conditions. Inflammation is the most common mediator between these two conditions, and Nova’s preclinical study has focused on targeting the gut-brain axis to get some control over it. The aim is to use psilocybin’s therapeutic effects to treat both the physiological and behavioural factors in obesity and comorbid depression.

Highlights of the transaction:

  • Liberty gains Nova’s current net cash balance of approximately $1.2-million;
  • Adds synergistic accompaniment to Liberty’s operating and licensed cannabis assets within the health and wellness sector;
  • Bolsters roster of personnel who possess experience within scientific and research and development community;
  • Provides opportunity for intellectual property creation as Nova advances its research mandate.

In the United States, more than 10.5% of the population has the disease, which represents 34.2 million people. It pays a significant economic burden on patients, meaning an average out-of-pocket monthly cost of USD$360. According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global diabetes drug market size was valued at $48-billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $78-billion by 2026.

The problem doesn’t have a viable solution, either. We haven’t even seen the fallout from the COVID-19 enforced sedentary lifestyle, but it’s a strong bet that we’re going to rise in both depression and type 2 diabetes.

—Joseph Morton

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