Vancouver, British Columbia – July 20, 2021 – Willow Biosciences Inc. ("Willow" or the "Company") (TSX: WLLW; OTCQX: CANSF), a leading biotechnology company that manufactures ultra-pure, sustainably produced cannabinoids via yeast-based biosynthesis, is pleased to provide an update on its operations as it transitions to a production company and expands its R&D capabilities to accommodate additional development programs, including cannabinol ("CBN").
Expansion of Commercial Operations and R&D Teams
With its lead program, cannabigerol ("CBG"), now successfully at manufacturing scale, Willow has added resources and expertise to manage commercial production and further expand its R&D capabilities to grow its product portfolio. Willow has expanded its Vancouver, British Columbia and Mountain View, California teams to include manufacturing, quality and regulatory groups, along with additional R&D scientists focusing on strain optimization and process development. Willow's total headcount is now 55 employees, 42 of which are in technical roles.
Expansion of Development Portfolio
With Willow's lead proprietary yeast strain now producing biosynthetic CBG at commercial scale, and agreements in place to generate product revenue, Willow's R&D teams are now focused on development of cannabidiol ("CBD") and tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC") programs for commercial manufacture. In addition to Willow's commercial development programs for CBG, CBD and THC, Willow's R&D team continues to develop biosynthetic processes for cannabidivarin ("CBDV"), cannabigerovarin ("CBGV"), and tetrahydrocannabivarin ("THCV"), and has now added an additional development project for production of CBN from its biosynthetically derived CBD or THC. Early research indicates that CBN may be effective as a sleep aid or sedative, in addition to other potential health benefits. The Center of Disease Control's Sleep and Sleep Disorder Program states that one in three adults in the United States do not get enough sleep, a crucial component for good health, and CBN is increasingly being incorporated into consumer products designed to improve sleep quality.
Update on Intellectual Property Position
Since its formation, Willow's R&D team has placed significant focus on the development of its core strain engineering technology platform that enables the generation of key intellectual property, such as proprietary genes, proteins and microorganisms for the biosynthesis of cannabinoids. During this time, Willow has established its own in-house cannabis genomic databases for identification of novel plant-derived genes, developed a rapid enzyme evolution platform for generation of proprietary engineered cannabinoid biosynthetic genes, and built multiple tools for genome-wide editing of its host organism. Using this strategy, Willow has developed proprietary genes for the primary cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway, identified novel secondary supporting genes for boosting productivity, and generated proprietary production host organisms for efficient cannabinoid production. Combining its in-house and production partner's upstream and downstream process development knowhow and expertise has led to the rapid development of a scaled production process for CBG. Willow has filed, and will continue to file, multiple patent applications relating to its proprietary genes, proteins and microorganisms and their use for the biosynthetic production of cannabinoids. Willow's first group of patent applications will publish later this year with subsequent patents publishing on a continual basis.
Formation of ESG Committee
The safe and environmentally efficient quality of Willow's manufacturing process is core to the Company's corporate and operational objectives. As Willow's team and operations grow, Willow continues to invest in its industry-leading sustainability management capabilities. To this end, the Company is pleased to announce that Willow has established a senior-level Environmental, Social, and Governance ("ESG") committee to oversee sustainability integration efforts and to provide a direct line from operations to the board of directors on all ESG matters. The ESG committee is comprised of cross-functional representatives and meets quarterly to ensure consistent progress.
ESG priorities for Willow in 2021 and 2022 include ESG strategy development, data management on identified safety, environmental, and social KPIs, target-setting, and internal and external stakeholder engagement.
An updated corporate presentation can be found at www.willowbio.com/#investors.
About Willow Biosciences Inc.
Willow is a leading biotechnology company based in that develops and produces high-purity, plant derived ingredients for the consumer care, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical markets. Willow's biotechnology platform allows creation of a consistent, scalable and sustainable product that benefits both B2B and B2C customers. Willow's R&D team has a proven track record of developing and commercializing bio-based manufacturing processes and products for both the consumer and pharmaceutical industries.
For further information, please visit our website at www.willowbio.com or contact:
President and Chief Executive Officer
Troy Talkkari, CFA
Vice President, Corporate Development
T: (403) 618-1117
150, 2250 Boundary Road
Burnaby, BC V5M 3Z3
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 milestone projections, including the timing of CBG production, revenue generation and commercial manufacturing of CBD and THC; the progress of Willow's commercial development programs for CBD, THC, CBDV, CBGV, THCV and CBN; the therapeutic benefits of CBN; the filing and publishing of patents applications and the timing thereof; Willow's ESG efforts and objectives; 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; the ability of the Company to obtain suitable manufacturing partners and other strategic relationships; and the successful implementation of Willow's commercialization and production 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.
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