For Akers Biosciences, Inc. (LON:AKR, NASDAQ:AKER), 2018 will be a defining year, according to chief executive John Gormally and its founder Raymond Akers.
For having secured US$6.9mln of new investment, the company is focused on becoming cash flow positive and profitable.
The turnaround probably can’t come quickly enough for shareholders in a business currently valued at less than the cash it has in the bank.
A rerating will be effected if the company can successfully deliver on its fully-funded growth strategy set out in a 21-page Powerpoint presentation the firm delivered to would-be investors ahead of its most recent fund-raiser.
Host of other products
The cornerstone of the business will continue to be the PIFA rapid assay for an allergy to the blood thinner heparin; however, there’s a host of other products that it is hoped will help propel the company towards profitability.
Chief among them is a new rapid test for Chlamydia that has huge potential: the PIFA PLUSS assay, which can deliver results in five minutes rather than the days it takes for a lab test.
For women, at least, the simple blood test is far less invasive than the cervical swab currently used to collect samples.
“This product, we believe, is going to be transformational for the company,” says its chairman Akers.
“There is nothing like it in the world. It is the first assay that gives you the results in minutes and it is also the first blood test for Chlamydia.”
It aims to work with the organisation Planned Parenthood in the US where it will also target clinics, college campus medical centres alongside government care-givers.
Potential commercial partners
CEO Gormally said executives are lining up potential commercial partners who would help introduce PIFA PLUSS Chlamydia to the wider world; however, the product must first receive what’s called 510(k) approval from the US Food & Drug Administration.
The process of securing this regulatory sign-off began last May and the medicines watchdog asked for more data from Akers in December.
“We are nearer the end of the road with the FDA but it is very difficult to predict when it is going to happen. We think it is going to be sooner rather than later,” said Akers.
The story doesn’t end with Chlamydia. The company’s health and wellness offering also has the potential to generate significant revenues, Gormally points out.
Akers has developed an app that helps users track their health over time, which segues nicely with a number of products that tap into huge markets.
It has breath test devices that help promote, track and encourage choices related to general health and wellbeing.
Talking to network marketing companies
It is talking to network marketing companies in a bid to open new sales channels, and the plan is to target weight loss centres, health and fitness clubs and doctors specialising in anti-aging.
Sleepers in the Akers development pipeline are the PulmoHealth breath tests that detect biomarkers associated with lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The numbers involved are mind-boggling: there are 1.6mln people diagnosed each year with lung cancer, 300mln suffer asthma, while 210mln smokers are currently being treated for COPD.
An asthma clinical trial has been “highly successful” and the next step is to file with the FDA for 510(k) clearance.
Cholesterol test already on sale
Already on sale is Tri-Cholesterol, the company’s rapid test that measures total, HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The product, the only one of its kind, is sold in major US drugstore chains under the FirstCheck brand and is another huge seam to mine for the business.
“This last infusion of cash will get us across the line,” says Gormally, regarding the recent fundraising.
“Everyone at Akers is supremely focused on making 2018 a profitable year.”