Africa’s first Cannabis Special Acquisition Company Prepares to List
“I believe that more and more people are starting to see that lifestyle, sleep, nutrition and managing stress are of utmost importance to be healthy, perform and live longer, hence the biohacking movement. We are positioning Cilo Cybin to become the enabler to these people.” Founder Gabriel Theron
Cilo Cybin is in the final stage of listing Africa’s first cannabis Special Acquisition Company on the JSE in Q3 of 2022. Cilo Cybin’s service offering combines biohacking, biotech, and pharmaceutical methodologies to effectively address an individual’s wellness, performance, and longevity goals.
Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies both produce medicines, but the medicines made by biotechnology companies are derived from living organisms while those made by pharmaceutical companies generally have a chemical basis. Biohacking on the other hand is the constant pursuit of better heath, performance and longevity through the use of technologies, apps, devices and supplementation.
Odyssey magazine’s Debra Robins caught up with Gabriel Theron, the founder of South Africa’s Cilo Cybin Pharmaceutical Ltd. to find out more.
How did Cilo Cybin come about?
Started off on my bed looking at an indoor cannabis facility on YouTube. One week later I found myself at a cannabis conference in San Jose, California. There I met a gentleman, who then became one of my trusted friends, who introduced me to the world of biohacking. At first I thought that I was just introduced to, as I told my wife, “the biggest druggies I have ever met” as they were taking cannabis and all kinds of psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin and ketamine, just to name a few. I soon discovered that the use of these “enhancement” drugs was not for the purpose of chasing the next high, but rather to enhance their thinking, problem solving and even their personal relationships. My friend explained that they have these weekends every quarter, when they take part in a ‘ritual’ of a sort, with predefined goals and/or outcomes for the session. For example, for the first third of the experience, he would focus on personal healing and himself, the second third on business goals and objectives and the last third, with his wife, to work on their relationship. This was all new to me, but I decided to do some digging.
I retired to SA, raised funds, started construction of the facility and got licensed to cultivate medical cannabis in 2021 and the further process under current good manufacturing processes into final products in 2022. Whilst this was under way, I returned to the USA and got introduced to the world of wearables and other amazing tech. At this point it was all for my own personal pursuit to a better, higher functioning and performance. I did genetic testing to understand my health and where I might encounter issues in the future, various lab tests and questionnaires to identify whether or not I’m expressing on these genetic mutations or not and to what extent.
On one of these trips, this same friend told me that he was in final stages of developing his formulations and that he found a device that he can use to show you the impact of this product on your body. I was I fascinated with this tech and, long story short, I teamed up with a team of doctors from the USA and Russia, to develop this technology into a smaller, ready-to-scale technology.
Somewhere during my own personal pursuit of increasing my own performance and longevity, all of the above pieces started forming a picture in my head and it became clear to me that this integrated, holistic solution was the future of wellness, both mental and physical. I realised that this was what I needed to bring to the world.
What is Cilo Cybin’s vision going forward?
In short, to first package various pieces of the ultimate wellness and healthcare solution by integrating various technologies, products, services etc, into one solution with the ultimate goal of wellness, increased performance and longevity. This is only possible if we treat every client of ours as an individual with laser focus, versus the shotgun approach. Ultimately, we aim to provide healthcare practitioners with more information and products to better diagnose and treat their patients.
Who are the target audiences that Cilo Cybin is looking to attract?
If we are referring to investors:
We are looking for investors that are looking to invest their funds into a company that aims to change the healthcare model and whose goal is to really elevate people. Investors that understand the potential of this market we are operating in, understanding that it cuts across various industries. Investors who are not scared of investing in cannabis, psychedelics etc. Lastly, someone that looks for long-term and not for short-term profits. This company has the potential, if backed by the right investors, to become the Tesla of the wellness industry.
If it’s our clients:
What made you decide to list the company on the JSE?
The JSE is part of a larger plan. We need to raise funds to enable us to acquire various players in various fields of operations. These companies include, but are not limited to cannabis, human genome mapping, monitoring and treatment devices and technology companies. By raising funds on the JSE, it puts us in the position to acquire these assets, link them all together into a working model, and then take it to a Nasdaq or similar exchange to raise funds in a hard currency and then to deploy on a global scale.
Looking at the growing global crisis of mental health, how can Cilo Cybin play a role in helping people understand their needs and heal?
Mental health is a global crisis and, unfortunately, the mainstream medical providers do not have the answer to fix this issue. More and more studies are showing that plant-based medicines are healing people, some permanently after one session. This, of cause, makes the pharma companies sit back and say: “But how are we going to make money? We can’t make money by selling a pill once to someone.”
Maybe therein lies the reason why we are in this mental health crisis. It’s all about profit and not about human wellness, performance, or longevity. If the focus changes from treating the symptoms, to rather making sure those symptoms never start in the first place, through individualised supplements, devices, etc., these companies can still make a profit and, at the same time, promote wellness, performance and longevity. That to me makes much more sense and that is what we want to do.
Once funded, we want to start engaging with research companies on the psychedelic products and push to get them into the hands of our clients, safely and according to regulatory frameworks.
In terms of your vision, describe Cilo Cybin’s product/service offering? When we hear the word pharmaceutical, we think of big pharma’s deliberate attempt to quash the natural healing sector … how is your approach different?
Cilo Cybin wants to operate in the pharmaceutical, biotech and biohacking sectors, underpinned by artificial intelligence. Data and pattern recognition are the key to wellness, performance and longevity. Pharmaceuticals are not all bad, just like all ‘drugs’ are not all bad. It boils down to how and when to use them and in what dosage. I’ll use an example. One of the products we supply is called NMN, which is technically a molecule made in the pharmaceutical sector. This molecule shows great promise in en reading longevity as it boosts NAD in your blood and increases insulin sensitivity in the muscle tissue. It’s a great supplement to take. Also, metformin, a drug developed for people with washer 2 diabetes. It was found that people taking this drug, despite their diabetes, outlived their ‘healthy’ counterparts. Same with LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. These are developed in a labs, yet, they all have healing properties, if used correctly, in the correct setting and state of mind when using them.
Cilo Cybin, aims to bring to the market safe, reliable, consistent products, with the goal of enhancing, uplifting and healing.
Cilo Cybin earlier this year launched CBD and THC product ranges, are these products the foundation of all future offerings or will we be seeing a totally new product set emerging?
These products are the first in a range of products. The CBD product range was the first product we brought to the market. It took us some time to decide if we wanted to participate in the CDB, over-the-counter space, as 20mg per dose or 600mg per bottle will have no therapeutic effect. After entering a collaboration with Vaal University of Technology, they formulated a range of products utilising a form of nanotechnology which basically allows your body to absorb our products more efficiently.
Thus, in answering your last question:
To what extend nanotechnology is presently being applied to enhance the efficacy of the Cilo Cybin offerings and how does it benefit users/customers?
Cilo Cybin earlier this year launched South Africa’s first oil-based cannabinoid products using nanotechnology with a Self-Emulsifying Drug Delivery System (SEDDS) that increases efficacy by up to 10 times. Cilo Cybin is the only company using nanotechnology to manufacture local oil-based CBD products in South Africa. Cannabinoids-based products are on average only three to six per cent bioavailable when orally administered. Cilo Cybin’s smart formulation, through the use of nanotechnology, increases the cannabinoid bioavailability by up to 30 per cent, significantly increasing the effectiveness of the product
After testing this on various people, we felt comfortable about bringing this to the market. We took a decision to not take it to the big retailers as we felt it would just dilute the brand and just be another product on the shelves to confuse the buyer. Our approach is again laser-focused and we now work with medical practitioners. We do sell online on Takealot and on our own website, but our clients will pay the same price regardless of what channel is used to obtain our products.
We will start in August to roll out our THC range of product via our medical practitioners and Section 21 (SAHPRA approval). We will assist patients that want more information on this through our website and link them with our prescribing doctors.
You talk of longevity, what can the market look forward to in terms of new innovation?
We don’t want to let all the cats out of the bag yet. However, we are looking at setting up clinics, with various treatments specifically focusing on longevity. Some of these technologies and treatments include light, laser, vagal nerve, sound and many more treatments. Then there is a supplement range that we will be launching together with our genetic testing service offering. For the rest, you will have to wait and see.
What holistic biohacking products are currently on offer? And where do you see this moving and developing in the medium term?
For now, the following biohacking devices and supplements are on offer:
- Red Light Therapy panel
- Blood flow restriction training bands
- CBD range
- Test kits
- Genetic testing kits
Do you see biohacking becoming chemically and pharmaceutically driven in the long term.
Biohacking is more than just supplements; it also includes devices to monitor and treat. I do see that certain products will come from the pharmaceutical sector, others from the biotech space and others from the tech sector. For this reason, we have positioned Cilo Cybin Holdings as a vehicle that will raise funds on the JSE to acquire assets in the pharmaceutical, biotech, biohacking and technology sectors.
‘Magic happens!’ You seem confident about the future positioning of Cilo Cybin. How do you see the future of natural wellness and holistic living in the long term and on a global scale?
There is a shift away from the ‘big pharma’ model, where only the symptoms are treated and, in doing so in a lot of cases, the patient ends up having to take a range of products to combat the various adverse effects caused by the medicine. I think we will see – and we are building our entire company around it – that understanding the cause of the symptom and then treating the cause is a much healthier and more sustainable approach.
The internet gave us access to information but, unfortunately, there are so many conflicting articles that end up confusing the man in the street and thus no resultant change occurs in lifestyle.
Until now, watch this space! Ed