Calgary, Alberta – March 12, 2020 – Willow Biosciences Inc. ("Willow" or the "Company") (TSX: WLLW; OTCQB: CANSF), is pleased to announce that it has achieved its first major commercial milestone by delivering a proprietary cannabinoid-producing yeast strain to its scale-up development partner, Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (“AMRI”) to begin the process of scaling up production to commercial volumes.
Willow’s successful yeast-strain engineering efforts have created multiple cannabinoid strains with promising properties that the Company will use as a basis for commercialization. The Company’s skilled science team were able to reach this critical step ahead of its initial expectations and combined with its partnership with AMRI, the Company expects to reach its commercialization phase in the first half of 2021, six months sooner than originally expected.
“We are extremely pleased with the success of our scientists,” said Trevor Peters, Willow’s Chief Executive Officer. “Their ability to create the yeast strain that will form the base of our future production ahead of expectations, is a testament to their skill and expertise. As we move into the scale-up phase of our development, our partnership with AMRI positions us for future success. AMRI has significant experience and substantial resources to support not only the technical development and implementation of our scale up, but also brings several other valuable strengths for commercial development, including regulatory and quality-control capabilities.”
Willow has started its initial development scale up-work in lab scale fermentation vessels with the goal of reaching a 500 litre pilot scale demonstration by the fourth quarter of 2020. The scale-up process to reach pilot scale includes iterative strain development to increase the cannabinoid concentration of the yeast cell, fermentation optimization, and purification of the fermentation broth into the pure cannabinoid. Following the pilot project, Willow expects to advance the scale up to larger, commercial-scale fermentation vessels as early as the first half of 2021.
“Having more than 15 years of experience in the manufacture of cannabinoids (pharmaceutical- and consumer-grade), as well as in industrial fermentation, we are particularly impressed with Willow’s approach to synthetic biology – and specifically for cannabinoid production via fermentation,” said Pete Michels, Head of Global Fermentation, AMRI. “We’re excited about Willow’s unique technical capabilities – including their execution of plant gene discovery and rapid strain engineering – to maximize the options for successfully delivering new, commercially-relevant fermentation processes.”
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.
AMRI, a global contract research and manufacturing organization, partners with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality of life. With locations in North America, Europe and Asia, AMRI’s team combines scientific expertise and market-leading technology to provide a complete suite of solutions in Discovery, Development, Analytical Services, API Manufacturing and Drug Product.
For further information, please visit Willow's website at www.willowbio.com or contact:
President and Chief Executive Officer
T: (403) 669-4848
CFA Vice President, Corporate Development
T: (403) 618-1117
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 development scale-up and commercialization; AMRI's development of a scale-up process for Willow's products; the market size potential of the synthetic cannabinoid industry; 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 partnership with AMRI, the success of Willow's pilot-scale development program, the successful implementation of Willow's commercialization strategy and the market for Willow's products. 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. Except as required by applicable laws, the Company does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.
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