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Refocused Kane revs up outlook Winnipeg biotech company cleans up balance sheet with eye on U.S., Canada wound care markets

Kane Biotech, a Winnipeg company with proprietary technology that inhibits and disrupts biofilm, has been in business for close to 25 years. Within the company and broader research community, its biofilm-dispersing enzymes have always held much promise.

However, regardless of efficacy of any new medical treatment, it takes an awful long time — and an awful lot of money — to get it approval for general use.

Over the years, Kane has attracted millions of dollars in research grants and loans in Canada and the U.S., including from the Department of Defence, which continues to research the technology for battlefield wound care.

The company went public in the early 2000s, a time when there was a rush to do so to access funding to kick start the commercialization of all sorts of technologies.

But those investors started wandering off when results did not materialize quicker. For the last 10 years, Kane’s stock barely moved between 10 and 20 cents; it closed Friday at 14 cents.

An additional challenge for Kane has always been its technology reasonably has many applications. Recently, a more focused approach has emerged and those distractions are starting to dissipate like bacteria in biofilm after an application of its new lead product, called Revyve.

“I tend to be forever the optimist, but I really think this is a big, big time in Kane’s history,” said CEO Marc Edwards.

About five years ago, there was a determination to develop an oral pet care product, with the thinking it might be quicker to get to market.

Its animal care division (STEM Animal Health Inc.) successfully commercialized and a good little business emerged with sales of its Bluestem Oral Care products, totalling $2.3 million in 2023.

However, a determination was recently made within the company to concentrate on developing products for wound care, which has always been a main focus.

Now, it’s the only one.

In May 2023, it forged a partnership with U.S. company ProgenaCare to distribute Kane’s rebranded Revyve, alongside ProgenaCare’s own wound care product that stimulates development of new skin.

Revyve Antimicrobial Wound Gel received regulatory approval in the U.S. last year. At the beginning of 2024, a new patent was filled for a spray-on Revyve.

In late January, the product was unveiled at the Boswick Burn and Wound Care Symposium.

The good news kept coming. In February, it appointed Dr. Robert Huizinga, a successful biotech executive from B.C., as executive chairman. In March, Kane was named Biotech Company of the Year by the Bioscience Association of Manitoba.

“Kane’s innovative products will help transform how we heal our bodies. Its product is rethinking a critical health challenge like wound care by being easy to use and effective. This changes health outcomes and lives of many,” said Andrea Ladouceur, CEO of BAM.

The big news came in April, when Kane sold its entire animal care division for net proceeds of $11.5 million.

That allowed it pay off a $6.7-million high-interest loan and use the remaining proceeds to continue its push to get Revyve into the hands of clinicians, where its use in the treatment of burn wounds and diabetic ulcers could be impactful.

Kane has also signed a four-year commercial manufacturing agreement with Halo Pharma, of Mirabel, Que., to manufacture Revyve.

ProgenaCare has succeeded in getting Revyve covered by Medicare in the U.S. and Edwards is hopeful when it gets regulatory clearance in Canada — perhaps this year — it will also get on the formulary in Canadian provinces.

Howard Walthall, CEO of ProgenaCare Global, based in Marietta, Ga., said science has recognized biofilm is a major protective mechanism for bacteria and is associated with a number of human disease states, including chronic wounds.

“We are very pleased to have partnered with Kane, which is a leading company in the development of technologies to address biofilm,” he said in an email exchange with the Free Press.

In the arcane world of the marketing of health-care products, Revyve is classified as a medical device. It’s also more expensive than other wound care products and is considered ultra-premium.

However, Edwards said Kane has been able to keep the price low enough to be covered by Medicare and believes its ProgenaCare partnership is the right way to get Revyve into the hands of the practitioners.

“If you really want to get the doctors using, it you probably need a more hands-on distribution team supporting it,” the Kane CEO said. “ProgenaCare will do that in the U.S.”

He added, at this point, the company plans to handle its own distribution in Canada. Even after the sale of its animal health division, the company’s workforce stands at 19, up from 15 when it was still operating the other branch.

It may be an important time in the life of the Winnipeg biotech company, but it is still far from home-free.

The company has long-time backers in the Swiss-based Renaud family, who hold more than 50 per cent of its shares; Edwards said they are “very excited” about the direction the firm is headed.

Its financial prospects are now better than they have been in a long time. After paying off high-interest, long-term debt, its balance sheet is far more attractive; Edwards said he’s recently fielded calls from interested investors.

“We are still figuring out our exact plans on how to allocate funds, but there is an opportunity to raise capital and that’s something we are considering very, very seriously at this point,” the CEO said.

“That’s something I wouldn’t have said as recently as six months ago.”

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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