If the last year and a half has demonstrated anything, it’s that pharmaceutical and biotechnology startups are leading the way into a new future of human health. The sector remains red-hot as the world celebrates the success of the Moderna and BioNTech mRNA-based vaccines.
One of these companies making inroads is Toronto-based Mountain Valley MD (MVMD). They’re developing proprietary technology that could hold the key to making existing world-class drugs and vaccines more effective, more affordable, and globally available. They’re also working on a medication aimed at ending many difficult-to-treat cancers.
At the helm is experienced entrepreneur Dennis Hancock. He has over 25 years of experience representing globally recognized brands in the automotive, pharmaceutical, technology, telecommunications, and financial services sectors. Now he’s charting a course to take MVMD to the top of the biotech industry.
A man on a mission
Dennis Hancock originally joined MVMD as a consultant in 2018 after hearing the firm was exploring novel uses of the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin, a medication that’s been in wide use since the late 1970s to cure some of the world’s most persistent parasitic threats.
Researchers have long known that the drug possessed some unique properties that might make it useful in the fight against other diseases. The most prominent among them is cancer.
Dennis had seen many of the people closest to him lose their lives to the disease, and leaped at the chance to help pursue a potential treatment for it. When the opportunity arose, Dennis was more than happy to step into the CEO role to help build the business and brand on the global stage.
In so doing, he immediately put his stamp on the company, insisting they go all out to turn their research into practical products. On the subject, he noted, “I wanted us to embrace solutions that move at the speed of technology and I encouraged a corporate culture of fast failure. It’s my opinion that if the business isn’t making mistakes every day, they aren’t trying hard enough.”
Encouraging early results
Dennis’s mindset helped push MVMD to pursue early testing of its proprietary version of Ivermectin, called Ivectosol, as an enhancer for existing cancer drugs. His conviction in the drug paid early dividends.
In early model testing for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, oral Ivermectin combined with a checkpoint inhibitor increased the complete response rate to over 40%, while the checkpoint inhibitor acting alone was only 5%. Dennis says the result encouraged the company to go further. “It’s a great result, and MVMD is running full speed ahead with it. It’s a daunting mountain to climb, but one that could lead to the ultimate reward: A world where our bodies can fight cancer and win.”
Pursuing a technology licensing model
To try and speed MVMD’s breakthroughs into the market and into the hands of people in need, Dennis has guided the firm in establishing partner relationships with a closely-held circle of pharmaceutical industry collaborators. “To keep our firm laser-focused on its research and technology development, I felt that it would be best to partner with established companies that had the scale and production facilities to turn our technology into marketable products as fast as possible.”
“The ability to scale our impact comes through working with broad reaching partners who see what we see, and believe in the change we’re pursuing. For us, staying nimble, strong and entrepreneurial is the only way to make our mission a reality,” he continued.
It’s an approach that Dennis believes dovetails with another project the company’s working on: A proprietary technology that when paired with existing vaccines and medications, eliminates the need for costly and complex cold-chain storage and transport.
That’s the very same problem complicating the drive to vaccinate the world against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dennis sees it as a challenge that must be met. In a recent interview he is explained, “Over $35 billion worth of vaccines are wasted annually. MVMD’s technology eliminates the need for the traditional cold chain, which means the people who need vaccines the most, in underserved countries with hot climates, will get them.”
Because Dennis positioned MVMD as a technology licensor rather than a direct pharmaceutical producer, once the technology is ready, they are set up to make a global impact.
Pulling together for the benefit of all
According to Dennis, it’s the vision that energizes the whole enterprise. “MVMD is founded on the pursuit to positively impact the health and wellness of the world. It’s run by a specialized collective of scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs united in their vision of a world where everyone can live their best life.”
When talking about the spirit of his team, Dennis says “They trust in the limitless power of science, fueled by human empathy, all with the focus to free millions of people from the tragedy of preventable disease.”
Together, Dennis and his team believe they are going to change the face of modern medicine.