Interview: Theralase Director of Investor Relations Michael Borovec on Their Cutting-Edge Cancer-Fighting Technology

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From smart phones to driverless cars to streaming video and music, it’s no secret that technology is rapidly changing the way we live today; however, the most dramatic tech advances are coming from the health field. New advances in medicine have extended the length and enhanced the quality of life of millions of patients substantially over the past few decades, and all to the thanks of the pioneering work from companies like Theralase (TLT:CA) . Based on the pipeline of Theralase, there’s plenty of reason to believe the most dramatic advances are yet to come. recently had the opportunity to speak with the Director of Investor Relations at Theralase, Mr. Michael Borovec. Read below for Mr. Borovec’s insights into the exciting developments at Theralase that could completely destroy a number of prevalent cancers with medical laser technology, and the opportunities for lucrative growth that their laser treatments provide.

EQ: Before we get into the latest news for Theralase, can you provide a brief overview of the company?

Borovec: At Theralase, we have two main divisions.

First, we have a therapeutic laser division. This division is the bricks and mortar of the company.  We utilize cold laser technology to deliver laser light energy into tissue in order to promote cellular regeneration at the source of the injury. Our laser treatment is effectively treating patients by eliminating pain, reducing inflammation, and accelerating tissue healing. The efficacy for our cold laser treatment far surpasses that of drugs or surgery. Theralase’s legacy product is the TLC-1000. On that product alone, we generate approximately $1.5 to $2.0 million in revenue. Currently, we are awaiting Health Canada approval for our patented, next generation product called the TLC-2000. The TLC-2000 possesses Cell Sensing® technology that is able to locate damaged tissue in your body and deliver a patient specific laser light dose of energy to heal it faster and more effectively that any technology on the market. Once approval arrives, we expect to generate $5 million in revenue for 2016, $10 million in revenue for 2017, with a five year guidance of $50 million annually. So as you can see, the company has tremendous revenue growth forthcoming from this division.

Our second division, and one where we garner even greater interest from outside parties, is our Photo Dynamic Therapy (“PDT”) division or what we refer to in-house as our anti-cancer treatment division. In this division, Theralase has licensed anti-cancer drugs known as Photo Dynamic Compounds (“PDCs”) that have an affinity for cancer cells and when light activated, destroy the cancer cell’s organelles, resulting in natural cell death through apoptosis. In addition, these drugs have a proven ability to fluoresce in tissue allowing the PDCs to be used as a diagnostic agent, detecting cancers cells and micro metastasis too small to be seen by the human eye. What is even more astounding about this technology is the ability of these PDCs to induce an “immune-mediated” effect meaning that they elicit the immune system to destroy any rogue cancer cells not destroyed with the primary tumor or to prevent the recurrence of the cancer as the immune system now recognizes the “signature” of the cancer cells previously destroyed. All of our research is being completed at the world renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (“UHN”) in Toronto, Canada, which is one of the top five cancer research institutes in the world.
EQ: What are your main areas of concentration? Are you looking to broaden your scope in the near future?

Our major areas of concentration for our Therapeutic Laser Technology (“TLT”) division have historically been sales in the Ontario region of Canada. We have some representation in British Columbia and Alberta in Western Canada and have completed a small amount of sales and targeted marketing in the US as well. To ensure we achieve our revenue guidance in Canada, we’ve expanded our sales and marketing teams this year. We have brought aboard Mr. Alan Chan as the Theralase Director of Marketing. Mr. Chan was responsible for the immensely successful launch of Botox treatments in Canada. In addition, we have brought aboard Mr. David Smith as Theralase’s Director of Sales, who has significant experience in medical devices sales leadership.

Currently, with our TLC-1000 legacy product, we have placed the technology with approximately 800 practitioners in Canada, and approximately 400 in the United States and internationally. We are confident that 50% to 80% of our existing client base will be interested in upgrading their current TLC-1000 technology to the new TLC 2000 platform, allowing the Company the ability to close a significant amount of sales in the form of low hanging fruit immediately after launch. In addition, with an expanded, externally located and full time sales force as of July 2015, we have our sales and marketing departments reaching in to unrealized markets such as Quebec, the Maritimes, and much of the rest of Canada outside of Ontario. Our TLC-2000 product will be a key driver of significant revenue growth moving forward.

The addressable pain market in the United States exceeds $99 billion annually and is growing rapidly with the aging population. According to US statistics, 42% of this population is not well serviced by pharmaceutical drugs, and 46% is not well serviced by surgery, with patients experiencing the same or greater pain prior to treatment. The opportunity to significantly make a difference in this population commences with the launch of the TLC 2000, with expected approval from Health Canada in 4Q2015.

While we have, and will continue to sell directly to healthcare practitioners, in order to allow a recurring revenue model, we have partnered with one of the largest medical device leasing companies in Canada. The recurring revenue model allows the healthcare practitioner the ability to purchase our new TLC-2000 technology on a five year rental program which includes the product, five years’ worth of warranty, marketing and software upgrades all for one fixed monthly payment, where Theralase is paid in full at time of delivery, and assumes no risk for the next five years. At the end of the term, Theralase has structured an arrangement to repurchase the asset back from the leasing company at a nominal rate. The healthcare practitioner now has four options:

  1. Return the TLC-2000 product to Theralase and their obligations are completed.
  2. Purchase the asset from Theralase for a negotiated price, but discontinue all warranty, marketing and software support
  3. Continue to pay Theralase on a monthly basis for all warranty, marketing and software support
  4. Purchase the new 2020 TLC-2000 product from Theralase and commence the lease program again.

Based on historical sales for our TLC-1000 product, we expect our average sale per healthcare practitioner of the new TLC-2000 technology to be in the $25,000 range.

In the Photo Dynamic Therapy (“PDT”) division of our business, our main area of concentration is for the destruction of Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer (“NMIBC”). There has been no new drugs developed for the treatment of NMIBC in the last 18 years. The current standard of care treatment for NMIBC cancer is what is referred to as a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Bladder Tumor (“TURBT”) procedure and involves scraping the bladder tumor from the side of the bladder wall and then injecting a bacteria known as Bacillus Calmete Guerin (“BCG”) into the bladder to slow the progression of the disease. The standard of care has been documented to be effective only 50% of the time after two years, with patients experiencing a recurrence of their bladder cancer within this time frame. NMIBC has the highest reoccurrence rate of all cancers at 80%, which unfortunately means that if you get diagnosed with this tragic disease there is an 80% chance that the bladder cancer tumors will reappear. 

We have just recently completed a rat orthotopic model study which showed greater than 98% cancer tumor destruction, and no impact to healthy bladder tissue. This is very exciting news for not only the Company, but the patients afflicted with this deadly disease. Not only has the Company succeeded in destroying cancer tumors at such an astonishing rate, but it has also demonstrated that with just one PDT treatment the animal has experienced an “immune-mediated” effect allowing the animal’s immune system the ability to destroy any re-challenging of cancer without the need for any further treatments. Essentially, the killer T-cells of the immune system have been programmed to detect and destroy cancer cells even after one, two, or three times of being re-challenged with cancer cells. This is especially exciting to us because of the tremendously high reoccurrence rate this cancer presents with. Pending regulatory approvals, the Company is planning to commence a Phase Ib Human Clinical Trial for NMIBC in 4Q2015, and pending successful completion of a Phase 2b clinical study in the Canada and the United States, commercialization in 2018.

EQ: Speaking about the therapeutic laser side of the business, how does your business model benefit the practitioner and patient?

Borovec: For the patient, our laser therapeutic treatment is extremely effective in eliminating pain, reducing inflammation, and accelerating tissue repair. Our healthcare practitioner customers have successfully treated millions of patients improving their health and increasing their quality of life with Theralase laser treatments. Our patients have included high profile athletes like NFL quarterbacks, MLB, PGA, ATP and NBA athletes, among many others. As far as healthcare practitioners are concerned, the Theralase laser technology provides healthcare practitioners with a 1400% - 2800% return on their investment. For example, if a practitioner purchases a 60-month lease for one of our products, their cost is in the range of $360 to $700 per month. Using the Theralase technology, the practitioner typically generates $10,000 per month in revenue. So based purely on a Return on Investment calculation, the Theralase technology is a very attractive way for patients to improve their health while at the same time enabling health care practitioners to make a significant return on their investment.

EQ: Is there a specific focus right now in terms of your two divisions or are you building both sides of the company equally?

Borovec: Essentially, the TLT division is a revenue generator, which has a lot of upside growth potential. It is the ‘brick and mortar’ part of our business right now. We’re a revenue company, but we're also a growth company on the anti-cancer side. The PDT division is where the tremendous blue sky potential is going to come from and where the take out target by a big pharma company will someday come into play.

While the therapeutic laser side of our operations is substantial, not surprisingly, the cancer side is even bigger. As I mentioned, right now we're working on NMIBC. In the United States alone, there are 75,000 new cases of NMIBC annually and 15,000 deaths. NMIBC is a $4 billion market in the United States and growing. Theralase is interested in helping to improve the quality of life of these patients by capturing a small percentage of that market and generating $USD 800 million to $USD 1.2 billion in revenue annually within three years of launch.

EQ: It sounds like your team has a pretty solid business strategy. Where do you see that leading in the coming years, or in the shorter term?

Borovec: We’re expecting significant revenue growth because of the opportunity that we now have to aggressively market and sell the therapeutic laser technology in regions yet to be addressed such as: the United States, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.  While we grow the TLT revenue generating side of the business into a 50 million dollar a year recurring revenue business, we will continue to advance our PDT division towards our goal in curing NMIBC cancer, in addition to other cancers and saving millions of lives a year.

EQ: Could you explain a bit about how your laser technologies are helping patients on the therapeutic side? What do they treat exactly, and what types of patients could benefit from these treatments?

Borovec: Our therapeutic laser technology expedites the healing process – it accelerates healing. The Company sells its technology to: medical doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, veterinarians, chiropodists, podiatrists, massage therapists, and other health care practitioners. Numerous sports teams have also benefited from the Theralase technology and are using the technology daily to rehabilitate their athletes to get them back on the field, ice or court, faster and stronger than before. Elite athletes and sports teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, San Francisco Giants, Carolina Panthers, Washington Wizards and Montreal Canadians, among others have all benefitted from using Theralase laser treatments.

Currently, a patient in pain or a pro athlete has the option to use treatments like: cortisone injections, surgery, or pharmaceutical drugs. As a real world example, I have a back problem that I had been treating with Percocet, which is obviously highly addictive. There are some side effects involved and it really doesn’t treat the condition, it just masks the pain and helps me get through the day. With Theralase laser treatments, I have been able to expedite the healing process and treat the underlying issue, removing my reliance on Percocet.

In our PDT anti-cancer division Theralase is looking to successfully treat cancer through the use of our laser light activated Photo Dynamic Compounds (“PDCs”).

EQ: For your anti-cancer treatment, what role does the light play in attacking the cancerous cells?

Borovec: The laser light is used to activate the PDCs resident in the cancer cells and in doing so produce a highly reactive form of oxygen, known as Reactive Oxygen Species (“ROS”), which destroys the cancer resulting in natural cell death. The PDC also possesses a fluorescing characteristic that under the influence of laser light allows the detection of micro metastases. This provides additional benefits as a diagnostic tool as well as providing evidence of the complete destruction of the tumor should subsequent treatments be required to completely destroy the tumor.

EQ: And fluorescing of the drug is useful at the outset of treatment, correct?

Borovec: Exactly. It's very useful at the outset of treatment in order to effectively diagnose, treat, and destroy the tumour to its full thickness. This approach ensures that you effectively eliminate the tumor before it spreads into the muscle layer of the bladder wall or spreading beyond the bladder into other organs, which normally results in a terminal diagnosis.

EQ: Where would you say the company is in comparison to competitors in the marketplace?

Borovec: If you look at the graph below, you’ll see some data on our two major competitors.


Their compounds are both FDA approved drugs, so they've already gone through the clinical trial process. You have two drugs here: Amino Levulinic Acid (“ALA”) and Photofrin®. Both drugs have limited scope of use and have demonstrated limited results. The Theralase treatment has been successful in the destruction of a wide range of cancers with near 100% destruction. 

EQ: That's definitely very promising. What are the most exciting recent developments for Theralase?

Borovec: We are patiently waiting for Health Canada approval for our TLC-2000.  While we have not filled any orders to date, we have received an enormous amount of interest in the potential of the technology from our existing customer base. Once approval is granted by Health Canada, our sales and marketing teams will be busy promoted the technology and filling orders. Our revenue generation moving forward will reflect this pending approval.

In our PDC division, we have recently submitted a Clinical Trial Application (“CTA”) to Health Canada in order to gain approval to proceed with a Phase Ib Human Trial for NMIBC. This is the first step in moving towards repeating the tremendous success we have demonstrated in our animal studies. We are very excited to be moving towards the destruction of cancer for NMIBC and for other indications, with this development and we look forward to recruiting patients in 4Q2015. We have recently participated in investor meetings in the United States, meeting with a number of financial institutions who own or have an interest in owning Theralase stock. We have consistently received extremely positive feedback and enthusiasm in investing from these meetings. Our stock has been moving in an upwards trajectory since then as we tell the Theralase story to an ever increasing audience to various financial institutions in North America. 

Theralase is planning to up-list to the OTCQB board in the next few months, while we move forward towards our goal of a successful NASDAQ up-list within the next 12 months. So as you can see, both divisions in the Company have significant positive developments happening at the moment and in addition, the market is recognizing the tremendous upside potential in an investment in Theralase Technologies Inc. 

EQ: It looks like you guys have a lot on the ball right now in the field. Is there anything more in particular that you wanted to share with our readers?

Borovec: We are making great strides towards significant revenue growth and the Company continues to move forward towards an effective treatment for cancer. From an investor relations point of view, Theralase Technologies has an aggressive market awareness program in place in North America that will serve shareholder value extremely well. There has never been a better time to be a Theralase shareholder.

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