Australian medical cannabis company Impression Healthcare (ASX: IHL) has taken yet another assertive step towards completing its clinical research program into concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) by drafting in former professional AFL footballer Liam Picken into its ranks.
The 33-year-old former AFL star will assist with the development of Impression’s IHL-216A formulation for the treatment of concussion and traumatic brain injury, after a star-studded career that saw him playing 198 games for the Western Bulldogs.
Mr Picken made his professional AFL debut in 2009 and over the next decade, suffered numerous concussions that ultimately forced him into retirement in April 2019.
The nature of Australian rules football meant he suffered a series of head injuries and persistent concussions that eventually led to an “enduring headache that lasted approximately 18 months, ongoing blurred vision and sensitivity to light and noise”.
According to Mr Picken, his eventful career and personal experience have motivated him to serve others in the game, where he now focuses on educational programs to raise awareness around brain injuries.
Just last week, Mr Picken appeared on several media outlets in Australia, including the Herald Sun and Channel 9 News, where he explained his decision to posthumously donate his brain for concussion research.
“I’d go into the club and, you know, you’d do something and then your symptoms would flare up and then you’d be stuck, you know, hiding away from the light,” he said.
Mr Picken also delved into the challenges of playing competitive sports at the highest level.
“It’s probably the human side of AFL that the supporters are out there and they might go unwatched, but they sort of don’t understand what AFL players put themselves through to be able to live this lifestyle and be able to play this game.”
Having been signed up to Impression’s advisory board, Mr Picken will be tasked with several responsibilities.
For starters, he will be expected to help develop real world aspects of the company’s upcoming clinical program for IHL-216A and to liaise with the media about its progress. Moreover, Impression has also confirmed that Mr Picken will also develop a player well-being program.
“IHL-216A is our proprietary neuroprotective agent to be administered after a concussive event. It is designed to ameliorate the symptoms of, and damage caused by concussions, having a strong application in the physical sport setting,” Impression managing director and chief executive officer Joel Latham said.
“We’re delighted that Liam has joined our team because his involvement will help to raise the profile of our endeavours to commercialise IHL-216A,” he added.
Impression’s IHL-216A trials are expected to commence late Q2 this year. The trials will constitute 25% of a broader clinical strategy being conducted by Impression to test medicinal cannabis products for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea, temporo-mandibular joint disorder and periodontitis.
Each indication represents major global markets with potentially significant annual sales for Impression via Incannex and its assortment of cannabis oils.