Brian is a marketing and investor relations professional with over 15 years’ experience in the biotechnology/healthcare industry. Mr Leedman is co-founder/VP of ResApp Health (ASX: RAP) and Chairman of Alzhiemer’s drug development company, NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals (ASX: NSB). Prior to ResApp, Brian co-founded Oncosil Medical Limited (ASX: OSL) and Biolife Science and Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU). Brian previously served for 10 years as Vice President, Investor Relations for pSivida Corp (changed to Eyepoint Pharmaceuticals) listed on NASDAQ (EYPT). He is formerly the WA chairman of AusBiotech, the association of biotechnology companies in Australia. Brian holds a Bachelor of Economics and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia.
Hi Brian, thanks for joining TIN. Can you give us a brief introduction to ResApp?
ResApp Health Ltd is a leading digital health company developing smartphone applications for the diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases. ResApp’s machine learning algorithms use signatures in the sound of cough or snoring patterns to diagnose and measure the severity of respiratory conditions without the need for additional hardware. Clinical studies at leading hospitals in Australia and the United States have demonstrated accurate diagnosis of lower respiratory tract disease, upper respiratory tract infections, asthma/reactive airway disease, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obstructive sleep apnoea. Potential customers of ResApp’s products include healthcare providers in telehealth, emergency department, urgent care and primary care settings as well as humanitarian organisations in the developing world.
Can you provide the backstory of how ResApp came together?
I originally licensed the technology behind ResApp from the University of Queensland and listed the company on the ASX in mid-2015. Dr. Tony Keating, the Commercialisation Director of Uniquest was approached to become the Managing Director and CEO, and together we have created one of the most exciting technology stocks on the ASX. Funds raised from the IPO and subsequent raisings have been used to further develop the technology through clinical studies that have been conducted at prestigious hospitals in Australia and the United States in both children and adults.
Let’s talk more on the app itself. Can you walk us through some of the features?
The app checks levels of background noise and asks basic questions such as age and obvious symptoms like the presence of a runny nose or fever. After recording five coughs, the app provides an instant diagnosis of the presence of respiratory illnesses (e.g., upper respiratory tract infection vs lower respiratory tract infection, pneumonia, asthma, or COPD). The technology is intended to be embedded within other apps such as the portal for telehealth consultations and assist doctors to diagnose respiratory conditions in their patients remotely. Other potential uses could be for doctors in ER wards to provide an instant triage using only a smartphone. ResApp is also in late-stage clinical development of an app that can screen/diagnose sleep apnoea simply by placing the smartphone on the bedside table whilst the subject sleeps at home.
Any future long-term plans for the App? What kind of growth plans are in store for ResApp?
European Union CE Mark and US Food and Drug Administration submissions have been made for paediatric use in cough diagnosis that, if favourable, will lead to commercialization in key healthcare markets around the world. Extremely positive adult study results conducted at Australian hospitals have recently been released, and a CE Mark submission will follow shortly. The company also soon awaits the completion of a comprehensive sleep apnoea study also conducted in Australia that is expected to enable a further regulatory submissions.
Where do you see Health Tech going in the future and how does ResApp fit into that future?
I was intrigued by Apple’s move into digital health in the leadup to the release of the Apple Watch not long after ResApp’s listing in 2015. I figured that if the biggest company in the world is moving into digital health, then this technology developed by Professor Udantha Abeyratne at the University of Queensland could excite the investor market which it did. Today, the FDA has its own dedicated digital health approval panel, and telehealth is the fastest growing field of medicine. Companies such as PingAn Insurance in China are seeing half a million patients per day utilising telehealth. Should ResApp receive regulatory approval as the world’s first digital diagnostic for respiratory disease using only a smartphone, we predict rapid growth for the company as the technology is adopted by healthcare providers around the world.
When you meet with investors, what are the main points you emphasize about ResApp?
That ResApp is unique. The only company to our knowledge that is using signatures in the sound of a cough on a smartphone to diagnose respiratory disease. That the technology has the potential to address enormous markets, in particular telehealth. That the company is well funded and advanced towards commercialisation awaiting the outcome of multiple regulatory submissions. The company is also developing new products such as a screening/diagnostic tool for sleep apnoea, which is in of itself a huge addressable market given that almost three in ten adult males are unaware that they have sleep apnoea.
Following on from that, you’ve had experience working and meeting with international investors globally. How do you make your pitch on investment in different geographies with differing investment interests?
The best thing about companies in healthcare is that there is always an inelastic demand for the company’s products following approval, such is the nature of regulatory approvals being for the public benefit. Accordingly, investors are attracted to healthcare for the same reason in that regulatory success often leads to commercial success. What makes ResApp so wonderful to promote to investors is that it addresses such huge and growing markets, and the consumer’s desire for better and more convenient healthcare solutions. What could be better or more convenient that an accurate respiratory diagnostic on your own smartphone?