Helping Patients More With Less Drugs: An Interview With CytoDyn's CEO

In a bull market, investors pile into large cap stocks to ride the wave.

With the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up more than 22 percent for the last year of market action, that has certainly been the case. For the savvy investors, that offers promising opportunities in many small caps that have been overlooked. One such company is CytoDyn CYDY, a biotech headquartered in Vancouver, Washington.

In a telephone interview and follow-up, its president and CEO, Dr. Nader Pourhassan, shared some exciting information with the investment community.

Dr. Pourhassan has more than 20 years of experience to the post. He rose through the ranks, previously serving as managing director of business development. Before that, he was the chief operating officer of CytoDyn. Dr. Pourhassan knows the company, which should please investors. He also has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering.

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According to Dr. Pourhassan, the company is working on PRO 140, which is "an injection that is self-administered by the patient." This product offers the hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. who are currently living with HIV an opportunity to improve by taking a "drug holiday" -- a much-needed respite from the onslaught of pharmaceutical products needed to combat the virus.

As Dr. Pourhassan explains, "We believe our treatment substitution study has the potential to provide a drug holiday to patients from their daily pill regimen. PRO 140 could be the key to maintaining viral load suppression during a drug holiday. If the study has a positive outcome, we believe this may address a significant unmet medical need and have high patient acceptance."

The good news for investors is the Food and Drug Administration recently granted its approval for CytoDyn to proceed with the treatment substitution study.

That is even better development for those suffering from HIV. The drug regime is very toxic, and can have a debilitating toll on the patient. It is also expensive, as much as $22,000 a year. Dr. Pourhassan also noted 75 percent of patients are, tragically, not properly taking their medsto treat their virus. And if they stop taking the pills, Dr. Pourhassan cautions that, "In previous studies, those who had a drug holiday relapsed."

The longer the drug holiday, the higher the percentage of those relapsing until it is almost certain, according to results cited by Dr. Pourhassan.

Pro 140 is hardly an untested product. It is a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against CCR5, a molecular portal that HIV uses to enter cells. So far, it has been the subject of four Phase 1/1b and two Phase 2a clinical trials with human subjects. Both of those demonstrated PRO 140's ability to significantly reduce the HIV viral load. That is why the Food and Drug Administration has "fast tracked" it.

This could be prove to be very rewarding for investors. "If the study is successful," says Dr. Pourhassan, there will be tremendous impact for shareholders.”

Posted In: Dr. Nader PourhassanhealthcareHIVHIV treatmentpharmaceutical industryLong IdeasNewsSmall Cap AnalysisTechnicalsManagementEventsTrading IdeasInterview