A true skeptic remains doubtful on a subject until adequate evidence is presented to allay their doubts. A true thinker is able to adjust their views based on new evidence and what is observed. I value expert opinion, however such opinion is not infallible. True experts with properly calibrated analytical and critical thought are able to step aside from their egos and preconceptions when presented with new evidence.
When I met Dr. Holland 4 years ago, his very first email to me on Hydrogen Water was scathing. Within 4 months of that date he was an equity partner in the company we had formed to commercialise what we were working on. Dr. Holland, adjusted his views based on the evidence and arguments I presented him with- evidence and knowledge I had compiled over the previous year of intensely following and studying the research- and became so interested he wanted to get involved and ensure it was available to others.
“I have been designing and synthesizing drugs for over 15 years and have a lot of experience in the requirements needed for a compound to prove its effects in a double blind randomized clinical trial, and this formulation would never pass those requirements. The formulation that you are talking about is pseudo science at best and has absolutely no health benefits other than those experienced by placebo.” Dr Holland, 2015
In 2019, Dr. Holland is in awe of our clinical data, performed by publicly funded teams in double blind placebo-controlled manners. As he states in our talk, if the evidence continues to hold up in replication the Governments will soon be adding it to public water supplies.
While Dr. Holland’s chemistry expertise has integral to our success in the early days, and his connections to peers in formulation and insights into the advanced and theoretical chemistry we needed to understand to harness our cloud of quasi dissolved nanobubbles was invaluable, today he has a different role.
Dr. Holland, or Richard as he prefers, is tasked with providing the same harsh skepticism he did on our first interaction, and I trust him to do this while being open to having his mind changed. Myself, as a passionate person full of fast-moving ideas which I submerge myself in fully, often I miss the clear reasons why my vision won’t work, especially from a pharmacological point of view. As discussed in our conversation, Richard will get messages from me and need to brush up on his reading, and I am pleased with and encourage his bluntness. As he states we need to figure out ‘if there is a there there’. Rather than trying to help me figure out how to prove what I have come to think, he will question the ‘why’ and how we could start identifying evidence on possible theories, and ways to falsify. Evidence is what is important, and it needs to be collected in a way to limit bias.
During our talk we also talk about the connection between science and nature, his love of it (both science and Nature), his other scientific interests such as gene editing, and how the supplement, food and fitness industries and the pharmaceutical industry are different beasts that all have their purposes. There needn’t be a war between the sides. As Richard states, when going to the grocery store you can take a Mini Cooper or a Ferrari, one will cost a lot more but both will accomplish the job. I’ll add that sometimes we need costly pharmaceutical procedures. Sometimes we need a tank, or an ATV. While the Mini Cooper helps us get our daily needs, sometimes we need to get to where we otherwise couldn’t to, to survive. Sometimes for our health we need powerful pharmaceutical agents. Sometimes we can accomplish health goals through free, or relatively inexpensive methods. There is a time and place for both.
Alex Tarnava and Dr. Holland Interview
Alex: All right. Hello. As all of you know, I'm Alex Tarnava, the CEO of Drink HRW. I'm here with my co-founder, Richard Holland, Dr. Holland. I've mentioned him in a lot of my talks and writing, and he was absolutely paramount in the early days and has a very important role now. Now, Richard, why don't you tell us ... because I've told the story and people laugh, about your initial skepticism. The first email you sent me when I tried to hire you to look over what I was doing, and kinda, the next few months, and how you gained a bit of interest.
Richard: Yeah. So, I was just doing some casual consulting, and Alex responded to one of my advertisements as a hired gun. And we had a short conversation via text back and forwards, and he kinda gave a very broad overview of what he was trying to do. My initial reaction, I went online and I looked at the solubility of molecular hydrogen and water, and I just did not think there was any way that you could get to a sufficient concentration in water to have any therapeutic value. Moreover, I didn't think there would be any bio availability of molecular hydrogen once you ingest it anyway. So I very quickly shot Alex a text back saying, "This isn't gonna work. I've just saved you 200 bucks in consumer fees. You're welcome."
Richard: But Alex being who he is, he's a very determined individual, and he already knew his stuff. He responded saying, "No, look at these peer reviewed papers," and there was a nature paper amongst others. It became apparent at that point that there was a there there and beyond that we were trying to reverse engineer a formulation and trying to design a better one. I just became interested in the methodology of just breaking apart the tablet and putting it back together to design what ended up being the best product on the market. So I got interested in the science and the methodology, just the product design of the magnesium tablets.
Alex: Yeah. It's not unusual that you'd have that reaction. I started learning right away that anyone who understood chemistry and biochemistry at all, said that's ridiculous, right? But the replicated data from dozens of teams across the world showing that it is doing something, led us to start doing more research in why is it doing something, what's going on, and that's kind of been the last 12 years of research, 13 years of research. Why is it doing this?
Alex: This doesn't make any sense. Now, slowly, the pieces are starting to come together on how it's doing what it's doing, why it's doing what it's doing. That's one of the things about science, is, it never ends. You don't prove something true. You fail to falsify it. If something is continuing to show the same results or similar results over numerous replicated teams, over time, the story starts coming together. We have to say, "Well, it's more likely to be true than not."
Alex: Hydrogen was just one of those things that it was ... I was skeptical of it, just from the marketing claims that were being made of it being a panacea by everyone into it, which it's not. Right? But it does have a wide range of benefits. Yeah, we're just slowing coming to a place where researchers are looking at the data carefully, and going, "Huh, there's something to this. This is interesting."
Richard: Well I think ... a different way as well because you were believing the evidence of your own eyes and your own senses, right?
Richard: So you were actually trying this product, albeit someone else's product at the time, and you were seeing a net positive improvement in your own personal health. So that led you to just digging deeper and doing the research about what's going on here. But it's not standing still. The underlying mechanisms are still being probed. The full picture is still being determined. I still think there's more work that can be done to understand the underlying molecular mechanism about why these things are working. It might be ... It probably will be the case, not just one locus of action, it's probably a multitude of locuses of action. It's a scenario that's ripe for continued research. That's gonna be academic. It's gonna be biotech. It's gonna be pharmaceutical, and then it's also gonna be coming at it from your standpoint as well.
Alex: Yeah. I remember a comment you made a couple of years ago that with some of the big clinical trials that were underway and some of the benefits coming out, and you said if this keeps on being replicated on larger scales, in a hundred years the government will be making everyone drink it.
Richard: Yeah. They'll put it into the water.
Richard: Just like fluoride.
Richard: There was a time before fluoride and then the results were irrefutable and then they started adding it to our water.
Alex: And even with fluoride, a lot of these cities that have removed it from the water over hysteria, conspiracy theorists on the internet, so to speak, are actually re-adding fluoride to the water because of dental decay in youth. They're like, "Huh, we put this in the water for a reason and now we took it out because of fears. And exactly why we put it in happened again." Right?
Richard: That's a scientific experiment in real time on human population.
Alex: I mean for the Canadian listeners, that just happened in Windsor, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta is putting together a study to look at how negative the effects of removing fluoride were in their water to get it re-added. But it was pretty devastating in Windsor.
Alex: It brings me into ... My first notion when I entered this and ... I pride myself in being a bit of a autodidact and teaching myself a base level of knowledge in a lot of areas, but I always want to defer to experts, like see what I'm doing wrong, what I'm missing. It's impossible to know what you're doing wrong if you don't understand why you're wrong. So naturally I wanted to find a PhD chemist to look at what I'm doing, and do I have errors, and how can I do this.
Alex: Now, talking to a lot of people in the natural community. And hydrogen is interesting because it has appeal in the medical research world, but it also has appeal in the natural community, especially with the magnesium. There's this huge suspicion in a lot of people in certain areas about pharmaceutical scientists. I have literally heard this in arguments that pharmaceutical scientists ... certain natural proponents say that pharmaceutical scientists think that you should just take a pill for everything, for cures and that you shouldn't be outside in nature, do anything, that everything is about a pill and this and that. It's hilarious. On your Facebook pages, when we text, it's like, "Oh, I'm not free to talk next weekend. I'm going fishing," or "I'm going camping," or "I'm going hiking," or "I'm going mountain biking."
Alex: So it's just this lack of reality and perception, right? You're a real person who enjoys the outdoors. You have kids, a wife. It seems every weekend you're outdoors.
Richard: It was my love of nature that actually brought me to BC, Canada in the first place. So I am English by birth. I was living and working in London, and I was commuting two hours to and from for work. So there was a lot of, essentially, lost time. I had the opportunity to come for vacation to Vancouver, instantly fell in love. There's a song by John Denver called "Rocky Mountain High". One of the lyrics in that song is "He was born in the Summer of his 27th year, coming home to a place he'd never been before." I was 29, not 27, but I felt an instant affinity with the mountains and the coastal geography of BC. We took a trip up to Joffre Lake which 15 years ago was a hidden gem. It's a little busier up there now.
Alex: I've never been there. I see it all the time on my Facebook scroll. It looks gorgeous.
Richard: Yes. I'd say it's the archetypal picture book glacier mountain lake with the beautiful, very unique color blue. I love nature, and I don't see science and nature as being opposite. I think they're actually one and the same things. In many cases you'll find examples where nature is actually probably done a better job of designing pharmaceuticals than man can.
Alex: It's had millions or billions of years.
Richard: It's had millions of years of evolution and I think it's a shame ... It's one of the tragedies of our time that we are denuding forests. We're destroying biodiversity without fully understanding the possibilities that could be. We just walk and wait. So my first position when I came to Canada, my first job, was working for a company that we were trying to develop novel neuropathic pain agents. The constant for that came from the cone toxin sea snail which uses a very powerful peptide to overwhelm its prey and kill it. But in turns out this thing in very, very small doses completely removes neuropathic pain. It was an example of nature showing how man could adapt and improve beyond that.
Alex: I mean that's true in a lot of drugs; even aspirin is from the bark of a willow tree, right?
Alex: In the pharmaceutical industry, what they'll do is they'll take the active component that has the benefit and will be isolated or modified to have the best impact with the most safety. That's what's done. So much comes from nature, and science by nature is the study of our universe and nature and how everything works. So it just has never made sense to me this position that scientists in a lab are this synthetic thing. No, it's trying to understand the world around us and how everything works.
Richard: Yeah. I can understand a stereotype of a dispassionate scientist, and there are instances of scientists discovering things just because they can and not maybe because they should. You can give various examples, but there is no one type of scientist.
Richard: They come in many flavors. I put my pants on same as you do in the morning, one leg at a time. My priorities are my family. I look after those, but I do relish the challenge of science. You never know what you're going to discover, what you're gonna come up with. It's not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. So there's something very gratifying when you do make a breakthrough or you come to a conclusion and you can move forward.
Richard: I think one of the things that appealed to me about working with you was when we were breaking down the formulations and rebuilding and trying the new formulations. That became a satisfying challenge in and of itself. It was just like how far can we push this. You were coming at me with ideas, and I was coming up with some ideas, as well. It was just like, wow, this is ... we haven't just hit the benchmark that we wanted to, we've completely blown it out of the water.
Alex: Yeah. We went way past where our original target was; and there's a saying that a challenge, once achieved, no longer motivates. That's one of the brilliant things with most areas of science is there's always a new challenge. Right?
Alex: When you figure out something ... we are so far away from understanding everything that it's lifetimes of work if it will ever finish. It's always new challenges.
Richard: We approached in a very step wise, systematic method as well. Another thing that I liked about it was there was ... I'm an organic chemist by training. Organic chemistry can be a more loosey-goosey science. A pinch of this, a pinch of that, let's see what happens. There was an element of that when we were doing our design work, some of the additives that you were thinking of. It was creative but it was still driven by a systematic movement forward.
Alex: Something that has come up in some of our filings with the government is trying to explain what we've done in base level chemistry which you can't do because base level chemistry says what we're doing is impossible, and you have to get into theoretical and abstract chemistry which was surprising and guess work. Why is it doing this? And then we were having to go back and think, "Okay. Well, there's this abstract law or theory," and then we'd try and falsify it. And we're like, "Huh. That's what going on."
Richard: Well, with our plan that we got done is actually one of the ones I'm most proud of. I can't remember how many I've got now, but it's quite a few. But that one is a unique one, and I'm very happy with what we achieved. It was interesting that we got to a level that was so high that there wasn't actually instrumentation around that could measure it. We were kind of having to create the system to actually measure the level that we were generating.
Alex: We were talking to some of these public teams that wanted to validate what we were doing and brainstorming ideas how to falsify and test and replicate what we're doing, and we eventually did. It's now been validated in numerous different methods from gas evolved to the titration to gas chromatography to ... We've done laser back scattering and tablets were taken to the University of Beijing, and they used one of the sensitive $20,000 US dollar instruments to measure Hydrogen. And based on having enough H2 gas to be at 30 psi under one atmosphere, it made sense from the nano bubbles inside and their hundreds of psi, again validating everything we're doing, but there's no one single technology that even exists to measure what we're doing. We've had to use a half a dozen different methods and different ways to put the pieces together to go, "Okay, well it's adding up to the same or roughly the same in all these different avenues. So I guess we are doing this."
Alex: It's actually something I talked to with Tylor LeBaron on our talk about a month ago. He said it's still sometimes ... he goes, "Oh man, this is just so ridiculous." It's against everything he was taught, but he can't refute the evidence that's been gathered.
Richard: But the net result is you have a product that clearly differentiates itself from anything else. If you want to go and get market share or ... this is something that essentially sells itself in terms of its differentiating properties.
Alex: No. It's interesting. I'm still interested in some of these international organizations are actually trying to create better methods to just literally test our tablet in a category of its own because it's the only thing that does it.
Richard: They probably have people out there now trying to reverse engineer our formulation.
Alex: Yeah. Absolutely. I want to talk about ... I'll ping you with, "Hey, what do you know about this?" from time to time. You're always pretty honest, "I don't know enough about that to give you advice." One time you did mention what you had been interested in, and I want to dive into this because there's, again, this prevailing thought in a lot of communities that pharmaceuticals only treat symptoms. That only holistic healers treat the whole root.
Alex: It's very unfortunate but fortunate this is odd timing. For the viewers, if you can see these stitches and gashes, and if you can see this red mark. I've been on IV antibiotics for five days. I won't go into it, but it should be obvious, for most of you, don't ever try to break up a cat fight with your bare hands. I mean, a hundred years ago I could have lost my hand.
Alex: It was infected. It was going red down my arm, and that was even after the ER doctor cleaned it all up. By the way, I mean, I've got a complaint to the Canadian medical system. But I was in to see an ER doctor within 12 minutes of the triage nurse seeing my massacred hand. It was unbelievable, fast, and efficient. He put me on a fairly strong dose of antibiotic pills to prevent an infection, and two days later I was back at the ER getting hooked up to my first IV. So I mean there is one instance where I would have had my hand amputated. Antibiotics saved my life and my hand.
Alex: Another one that's super interesting coming up that could cure a lot of diseases before they even start is something you said was interest of yours, gene editing.
Richard: Gene editing, yeah. Gene editing is cutting edge technology. It's new and emerging. I don't know how much you want me to say about that. It's something that in my "day job," in my company, it's ... we are starting to look towards it. The research is very much in its early days.
Richard: So the actual delivery of the API inactive pharmaceutical ingredient is a challenge in and of itself. That's something that my company focuses on. With gene editing it's an interesting one though because it's basically a one-stop shop. The only thing you have to be very careful about in the selection of indications and getting appropriate systemic versus focused delivery. I could see that replacement of faulty or absent genes would be of huge medical value.
Alex: I mean, I'm more bring this up just to ... I think it's really important to bridge a lot of this communication that some of the issues that, say, people would have with big pharma are the same in the natural community. Money, corruption, bureaucracy getting in the way. But at its base, most legitimate scientists, on either side of the fence, just care about things that are safe and effective, getting them to work. Because as you said, you care first and foremost about your family. Anything that's being developed will be used on your family, and it's just crazy to think that there'd be these tens of thousands or millions of scientists actively doing evil, you know, on the population.
Richard: Well, I don't know if there are many people, if any, that actually wake up today and say, "I'm going to do evil [crosstalk 00:22:46]." But I do think one has to be very careful with the application. With great power comes great responsibility, so an example would be splitting the atom.
Richard: So splitting the atom you could generate huge amounts of energy which could be used to power power stations to make electricity for everyone, but it can also be used to make weapons. This might play into the negative stereotype of the scientist, just because you can do something, should you do something? And more going back to gene editing on a more relevant, current topic is that there are now alive and in China the first humans-
Alex: Gene edited babies.
Richard: ... that have gene editing as part of their genetic make up.
Alex: It's coming up that more people, other than that one scientist, probably knew about it. I mean, China is so surveilled. How did his supervisors not know what he was doing?
Richard: No. Everyone knew about it. And it was done in China because it would not ... that research would not be allowed in North America. Now, those edited genes now, if those two kids go on to have offspring-
Alex: They'll be passed on.
Richard: ... they so ... That genie is out of the box. That essentially is an uncontrolled experiment. We don't know if that is gonna be good, negative, neutral; we just don't know. As I said, just because something can be done, should it be done?
Richard: An example which I think can be interesting ... and I don't even know if this is technically possible, but I learned a little while ago that elephants don't get cancer. So you'd think just because cancer is a genetic disease, and the more cells you have, the more chance one of those cells can become abhorrent. That's just math. So just-
Alex: And we have millions of these mutated cells in our body all the time, and by cancer it's just kind of when they hijack our [inaudible 00:25:08] system and are able to replicate out of control.
Richard: So cells are undergoing DNA damage the whole time, just from natural metabolic processes. We go out in the sunlight, UV will cause damage, but the body has ... Cells have defense mechanisms that either repair DNA damage or if it's non-reparable they will kill the cell so these cells won't reproduce. Cancer is basically uncontrolled cellular proliferation. And then we get to the point where it's too big, so you compromise your organs or ... That's essentially what kills you.
Richard: Now it turns out that elephants, because they have far more cells in their body than humans, they should get cancer a lot more frequently than humans. But in fact, they don't. Genetic mining are showing that the have a gene called LIF1 which essentially eliminates all cancers. Humans have a very similar one called P53, but it's just not as effective as LIF1. P53 is one of the common ones. So for example if you get lung cancer, cigarette smoke, one of the first targets is it eliminates P53, and that's one of the reasons why cigarette smoke will give you cancer and kill you.
Richard: Just as blue sky thinking for gene editing, it's potentially possible that you could put this elephant gene into humans and eliminate all cancer in human beings. Now, the question then becomes should you do that? Just because you can do that, should you do that? Do we want people to live 150 years or 200 years?
Alex: This is something Richard and I have talked about, debated quite a bit because I am a proponent in indefinite lifespan, not living forever. But I think if we were given the option that we could return you to the body and mind you had when you were 20, 30 years old for 10 more years, at what point do you say no?
Richard: Yeah. There is a debate going on, and it's an active one. It's a controversial one. Is death a disease? Because something eventually catches up with you, be it cancer or heart attacks, but these are just byproducts of our physical system. As our knowledge is getting more and more in depth and involved, we're finding new ways to actually just maintain these physical systems so you don't get sick, then theoretically, yes, you can massively extend your lifespan.
Alex: And health span. And a lot of people-
Richard: And even your health span because that's the net result. So you're addressing these health issues as they come up so they're not contributing to morbidity.
Alex: And a lot of people when they think about dramatically extending lifespan, they think about living another hundred years as a frail hundred-year old person, a geriatric. That's just not the case because if aging was addressed at its root, you'd be living those hundred years with a healthy body and mind not ravaged by the damages of age. It's one of the things that I've talked about quite a bit, and this is more bureaucracy than it is the ability of science or anything. Right now, pharmaceutical companies have their hands tied because organizations like the FDA don't consider aging to be a disease. So you couldn't ... Even if a pharmaceutical company wanted to spend billions of dollars to reverse aging, you wouldn't be able to get an IAD on it. You wouldn't be able to do this, unless you show that you treated or cured a disease in doing it.
Richard: Death isn't a single disease. It's a canopoly of diseases. So it's one of many that you potentially could get. So some people have a genetic tendency to have cancer. That might be different between you and me. Some people can smoke all their life and just never get cancer. Other people will get cancer in their childhood and die. But those kind of things can be studied, understood, and addressed on a mechanistic basis.
Richard: Even though the human body is fantastically complicated, it's not infinitely complicated.
There is a physical limit which suggests that it is possible at some point to basically understand pretty much everything, and then eliminate it. But what you can't eliminate is living. What I mean by that is every time ... as I said, every time you go outside and expose yourself to UV, you're causing yourself some damage. So you can extend your lifespan by removing all of these kind of risk factors. One of the great sources of free radicals that cause cancer is just by eating, but you're not going to stop eating, and you're probably not gonna-
Alex: Or breathing oxygen.
Richard: Yeah, or going outside. It's part of the human condition that you are exposing yourself to risk just by living. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be possible to extend lifespan significantly. It used to be the dogma that one of the problems is that the brain cells don't reproduce, but actually that is not the case. The idea was that your body could live forever, but your mind would always just-
Richard: ... because you're not generating new brain cells, but actually you have neuroplasticity and you do get new brain cell generation. There's actually a pretty high turnover. I find this an interesting fact that all of the cells in your body, including your brain cells, are replaced. So who you were as a kid, isn't actually you. Cellular-ly you're completely different, although you still remember stuff. I find that kind of a fascinating concept.
Alex: Sure. So that kind of ... Out of your self experience ... I know pretty much everyone feels where you look back at your past and you think that you're watching a movie or remembering someone else's past, that's actually true because it wasn't you.
Richard: Yeah. It wasn't. It was actually just a different version of you which is ... Memory is a fascinating thing. It's purely subjective and just that leads into discussions around your consciousness and before you go too philosophical in the context of this discussion, but interesting nonetheless.
Alex: We've had a couple of those conversations.
Richard: Yes, we have. Better done over a glass of wine I think.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad you brought up that sometimes the question is should you do it, not can you do it. It's something that you've been really helpful, like now that we've gotten a better understanding about our tablet and everything that we're doing. As I get passionate and enthusiastic and go down other areas, sometimes I close my self off to the world, my friends, my common-law spouse all know this. I'll just be in my own world and not even realize what day it is or what time it is, and I'm reading in the middle of the night. I'm sleeping two or three hours a day, and it could go on for months on end.
Alex: I'll start firing these long essay-like texts to you on my thoughts. So often I think what happens with a lot of companies is when the CEO starts doing this, everyone around them starts thinking of ways to make it happen and prove it right. And you're often just quite blunt with me, "What's your goal here? What do you want to do?" Or "That sounds very expensive to actually prove your hypothesis. You might be in for millions." And then we start having more of a sober conversation about it and thinking, "Okay. Maybe I have some sound reasoning on some things, but how are we gonna expand on that?"
Richard: Yeah. I think this is ... You're an ideas guy. You're a constant thinker and when you get onto something, you immerse yourself in it deeply, and you make yourself an expert very, very quickly. I can imagine, people like Steve Jobs were like this as well. They had more thoughts than the ability to execute them. My background as a pharmaceutical scientist, we tend to be very project and objective driven. I think that's sometimes useful for our interactions to kind of ... of the 10 ideas that you have, let's see where there's a there. What are you actually trying to achieve? Because I see the way that you read literature, and it will produce 10 more ideas, 10 more papers that you read. Then you read those 10 papers, and that generates another 10 ideas.
Richard: It's enthusiasm, but sometimes the enthusiasm needs to be tempered and I provide a good balance, maybe, to your ...
Alex: And it's what's important. I said originally when I sought you out, is I've always had this enthusiasm for what I'm doing but I'm well aware of ... down in [Krueger 00:35:24] and when you start giving a little bit of knowledge on something, you think you're an expert and confident. That's why I always want to bounce things back on people who I know to be more of an expert than I am.
Richard: Yeah. But with it ... I don't think it hurts to second guess yourself, but in my experience, I've always been impressed with the depth and breadth of your knowledge and your ability to get up to speed on a subject very, very quickly. I actually find myself playing catch up with you a lot of the time. So I'll get a text from Alex at two o'clock in the morning, and think, "Oh, I guess I better hit the books tomorrow and start educating myself." But I've learned a lot.
Richard: The other thing that I can provide as a counter balance is that you are potentially limited by the tools at your disposal. So I can use pretty advanced search techniques, structured techniques and when I look at the compounds ... You look at one that's perhaps available as an OTC or as a byproduct of a spice or a food ingredient that's associated with these. When I look at it, I see the compound and I think, "Okay. This would be a great start for a pharmaceutical program, and this is how I would do it," and do it in a very stiff-wise scientific method. Perhaps, the two techniques feed off each other.
Alex: Absolutely. I mean you've had some great ideas on how to do some things on no budget or limited budget on how to start validating some of my thoughts. Even with yours and your colleague's suggestion to just measure the temperature on my back. Being M1 on my own bad activation study.
Richard: Yeah. You've got to walk before you can run. And I can definitely foresee a time when you might have a $5 million budget to spend on a laboratory and some very [inaudible 00:37:40] but that isn't the case now. But that doesn't mean that you can't do anything. Sometimes you've got to bootstrap an idea to get it off the ground.
Alex: Absolutely. That involves both talking to experts, numerous experts to be critical but also to give input. That's kind of what I've done with Richard and others. I bounce these ideas in so many places and it breeds, like you said, you'll give me 10 articles and I read them. Now I have more ideas, and I send them elsewhere. It starts flowing an idea.
Richard: I think also that is where true innovation happens. I'm a great believer in the maxim of necessity is the mother of invention. You can get pharmaceutical companies with budgets of $100 million and an army of scientists, and they're not actually making ... it's not a linear path. There is diminishing returns. So you actually get a lot of value out of innovation at this level.
Alex: And speaking of that, I know we've kind of chuckled about the first tablet on record was from [inaudible 00:38:54] Institute. That they were trying to patent it as a drug, and they had an entire team, the fourth largest research institution in the world. And they developed their tablet using base level chemistry that they thought was accurate, and it didn't work in practice.
Richard: Yup. And you and I did our initial experiments in our kitchens, and we were pressing the tablets one by one, individually, as you needed to, but we still came up with a fantastic product. Like Apple became the biggest company in the world out of a business that started in someone's garage. Hopefully this turns into that as well.
Alex: I hope so. I want to just touch base on one last thing. There's, again I'll use this term, this prevailing belief in the skeptical community that pharmaceuticals are evidence based and supplements aren't. That doesn't have to be true, and a lot of it comes down to bureaucracy and what you have to do to appease the government. Because what we're trying to deliver here ... you have been, when I get enthusiastic, you'll say, "How are we gonna prove this? You need to know it works. Sure it's a shiny idea, but how are we gonna validate it?"
Richard: And in a reasonable time frame for a reasonable cost as well.
Alex: Exactly, right. What's really important is that something is safe and effective.
Richard: Absolutely. Safety first.
Alex: Exactly. That we see it works and we can prove it works. Regulations, bureaucracy is second. We have to oblige by them. But I don't think the supplement industry can be faulted by having a different set of regulations than the pharmaceutical industry, as long as you're pursuing evidence and safety.
Richard: They're different institutions. I think that they're trying to achieve different things. With that said, I think there's increasingly a cross over and people are ... my analogy is if you go to the shops, you can take a Ferrari, which in my analogy would be a pharmaceutical company spending a hundred million dollars, or you could take a Mini Cooper, which would be something more like us, but they'll both get you to where you need to go. So it depends on what you're trying to achieve.
Alex: And you've told me about the comparison between the one drug and Omega-3.
Richard: Yeah. So for example, there's a possibility to use a very complicated nucleic acid which can cut down an mRNA to stop production of a protein, and that will have an effect on your triglyceride level. That would be a fairly expensive treatment. However, you can get a very similar effect by taking Omega-3 fatty acids which are derived from fish oils.
So you can get something that's gonna cost you a thousand bucks a tablet or something that costs you a buck a tablet, and they're both gonna have a very similar approach. So you need to have a good understanding about where you want to be and then you need to understand what are the possible ways you can get there.
Richard: I understand where you want to get to, and I think that I help select the method by which you get there.
Alex: And great ideas on how to do it in a cost effective manner because we are on a shoestring budget doing this. Like you said, we were pressing tablets in our kitchen.
Alex: I was mixing some of this stuff with some safety controls that were only good because I was only doing a couple hundred grams of it at a time as we were trying to figure it out.
Richard: Yeah. We were grinding the formulations with a pestle and mortar.
Alex: Yeah. So it's been invaluable to have these ideas to try and ...
Richard: It's been a very satisfying evolution to see it go from that ... to bootstrap it from that garage to the scale of manufacturing that you're now on.j
Alex: Yeah. We went from ... It's one of those crazy things like you said. When we'd make 10 pills in a mortar and pestle, we didn't realize the complications of mixing on a large scale because to mix it safely, this is [inaudible 00:43:44] grade magnesium. We have to have numerous safety controls in place to have this quantity, but then even the mixing, the settling, you know? How particles interact while being mixed, the speed, the rpm, the force that they're colliding, and we have like 30 steps that we have to do to mix it because you can get a perfect result mixing 10 and then you put it in a big mixer and nothing works.
Richard: Yup. And then part of that is some of these challenges could have been predicted, but there's always gonna be cases of there's the unknown unknowns that you just come up, and you only experience them because you're doing that at that stage. That institutional knowledge also brings added value to whatever you're doing in terms of the proper manufacturing.
Alex: And some of these unknown unknowns that we were getting, they were unknown because nobody had done what we were trying to do.
Alex: So nobody knew them.
Richard: And people aren't going to share their secrets with you because in the same way we wouldn't want to share our experience with potential competitors.
Alex: Exactly. You remember getting texts from me all the time. Like you said, sometimes at two in the morning as I was obsessed reading every publication on pharmaceutical formulation I could get my hands on, every advanced manufacturing, everything, talking to every consultant, hiring ... and everyone is like, "I've never heard of that happening before. What? You're using metal magnesium? I have no idea what could be going on there." It went from ... when we were first pressing the ones by hand, you had the chemistry perfect within a few weeks, and then it was bouncing ideas, late night calls and texts, like a thousand derivatives of adjustments and 15 failed scale up attempts before we had our first production ready tablet.
Alex: Because it's those unknown unknowns. We're like, "Why is this happening? What is going on?"
Richard: And there's still a few good ideas that were left on the cutting floor, I think at some point, bandwidth permitting, we could circle back and follow up on.
Alex: Yeah. Some of the ones that we hypothesized would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment modifications, but we got it done on the limited budget.
Richard: But it's nice to have back ups.
Richard: It could have been an out and in, you can always come and revisit at a certain time in the future.
Alex: Absolutely. Well, I really appreciate talking to me today.
Richard: You're welcome.
Alex: And letting our customers your face and voice to what I mentioned.
Richard: I just want to wish you continued success. I've seen your year and year growth in the last two years, and it's been impressive. I hope that continues. With your drive and enthusiasm, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be.
Alex: Great. Thank you.
Richard: Thank you.