21/12/2020 - 17:41

PharmAust extends million dollar contract

21/12/2020 - 17:41

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ASX-listed clinical-stage oncology company, PharmAust, has achieved a further annual extension to its current contract with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, or “DNDi”. The extension marks the 13th year that PharmAust’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Epichem, has been engaged by DNDi. The contract is expected to generate up to $1.02 million in revenue during 2021.

ASX-listed clinical-stage oncology company, PharmAust, has achieved a further annual extension to its current contract with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, or “DNDi”. The extension marks the 13th year that PharmAust’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Epichem, has been engaged by DNDi. The contract is expected to generate up to $1.02 million in revenue during 2021.

Epichem will continue to provide its synthetic and medicinal chemistry expertise to support DNDi’s drug discovery projects that are aimed at developing new treatments for people with neglected diseases around the world.

An example of the work Epichem undertakes for DNDi is a previous investigation into “Leishmaniasis”, a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe.

That work was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialisation Grants Program back in 2016.

Epichem finished the last financial year strongly, exceeding its projected revenue forecast of $3.32 million to achieve top-line income for the year of $3.54m. Given Australia’s overall success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic on home soil, Epichem was the only DNDi consortium provider able to provide continuous services throughout 2020.

At the listed company level PharmAust is primarily focused on developing cancer therapeutics for humans and canines. It specialises in repurposing existing drugs that have already proven to be safe for other uses which removes a number of the traditional hurdles along the road to market.

PharmAust’s lead molecule in the fight against cancer is Monepantel, or “MPL”  a veterinary drug previously registered for use by a major pharmaceutical company as a wormicide in many global jurisdictions. PharmAust discovered independently that MPL interacts in a previously unrecognised manner with the “mTOR” pathway, an important regulatory pathway in mammalian cells. Consequently, it says the drug has potential relevant therapeutic value in a wide range of diseases including cancer.

PharmAust said the fact that MPL was already approved for use in animals in a number of major jurisdictions - including the European Union, United Kingdom and Australia - meant the development process was simpler and cheaper than it would otherwise be if MPL were a new active pharmaceutical ingredient.

The company’s other wholly-owned subsidiary, Pitney Pharmaceuticals, owns a number of granted patents for the use of MPL in cancer therapy and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Pitney recently submitted novel patents to cover the use of MPL in the treatment of COVID-19 and other related viral infections.

PharmAust said MPL and its anti-cancer fighting stable-mate, Monepantel Sulfone, or “MPLS” can have a positive anti-viral effect on cultured cells infected with the Coronavirus. In September, the Perth-based company said a second repeat of its in-vitro anti-viral testing regime successfully demonstrated the anti-COVID-19 properties of both MPL and MPLS.

Despite the success of these experiments, the company said it was important to note that activity in vitro did not always translate to human patients.

Remdesivir, the drug used to help President Donald Trump recover from COVID-19 last year, is currently the only drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration known as the “FDA” for the treatment of COVID-19 infections. The approved emergency clinical use of Remdesivir is corroborated by a study demonstrating the capacity of the drug to improve recovery time following COVID-19 infection from 15 to 11 days.

MPL may have a distinct advantage over other drugs in development given it has already been used in human clinical trials and is a well-known drug with a high safety profile. In addition, Remdesivir is an intravenous therapy that delivers fluids directly into a vein in a hospital setting whereas MPL can be administered orally in tablet form.

This means patients could potentially be treated earlier when they first test positive rather than when they become hospitalised with COVID-19.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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