Coronavirus has taken a toll on the world economy, infested and killed thousands across the globe. Amidst mounting fears of COVID-19 pandemic, the entire pharmaceutical industry is engaged in combating the deadly diseases targeting to come up with an appropriate treatment option.
With its world class, rapidly burgeoning, dynamic, complex, and most diversified health care system with incredible potential to deliver significant returns for the economy, Australia is poised well to combat against the deadly coronavirus.
The Australian government has been proactive in monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, the respiratory illness outbreak caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) and has unveiled a comprehensive and an attractive health package valued $2.4 billion. This is for the protection of the countrymen, including the most susceptible individuals such as the elderly people with chronic conditions as well as native communities. The aim is to slow down virus transmission and include nearly hundred pop-up fever clinics, telehealth consultations as well as advertising campaign worth $30 million.
This health package also comprises of pop-up fever clinics. Additionally, the government has secured supplementary surgical, P2 and N95 masks to supply to confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus infection.
The Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Scott Morrison has also recently declared the initiation of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan COVID-19.
Following actions will be undertaken by Australian Government to fight COVID-19-
- Monitoring and investigating the outbreak as soon as it arises.
- Quick and Efficient response against the outbreak.
- Identification & characterization of the nature of the virus and the clinical gravity of the viral infection
- Management strategies for respiratory disease-specific research.
- Strategies for further transmission reduction.
- Contribution towards the speedy and assured recovery of individuals, communities and services.
Some of the biotech entities that have joined the bandwagon to fight COVID-19 are-
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals
- Eagle Health Holdings
- Zoono Group
- CSL Limited
- Biotron Healthcare
- Holista Colltech Limited
- Gilead Sciences
We would now discuss three ASX listed health care stocks engaged in testing its lead product for the COVID-19 - Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB), Cynata Therapeutics Limited (ASX: CYP) and Biotron Limited (ASX: BIT).
Mesoblast Shares Skyrocketed on Announcing Rally against COVID-19
World leading regenerative medicine company that develops allogeneic (off-the-shelf) cellular medicines, Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) recently notified about its plans to investigate remestemcel-L, an allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) product candidate, in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) patients, a lung disease caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) that has taken a toll at a global scale. For implementing these activities, active discussions are underway with different government & regulatory bodies, medical institutes and pharmaceutical firms.
Reportedly, the mortality in COVID-19 infected patients diagnosed with inflammatory lung condition ARDS has reached 50%. It is mainly linked to older age, illnesses such as diabetes, elevated markers of inflammation, higher disease severity. Existing curative interventions do not seem to be boosting in-hospital survival, reflecting a need of more precise treatment.
Furthermore, Mesoblast unveiled that, remestemcel-L infusions have significantly reduced inflammatory biomarkers while substantially enhancing pulmonary function in patients with raised inflammatory biomarkers in a post-hoc analyses involving 60-patient randomized controlled study in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Remestemcel-L was also found well-tolerated. The same inflammatory biomarkers are also found at an increased level in COVID-19, remestemcel-L could be beneficial in treating patients with ARDS patients caused by COVID-19.
The company recently filed a U.S. application for approval to utilize remestemcel-L.
On entry into COVID-19, MSB’s shares soared 19.6% on 10 March 2020. It quoted $1.62 per share, up 5.19% as on 13 March 2020. The market capitalisation of the company stands at $827.17 million with 537.12 million outstanding shares.
Cynata Therapeutics Share Price in Action Upon Receiving Additional R&D Tax Refund
Australian clinical-stage stem cell & regenerative medicine company that develops therapies based on its proprietary therapeutic stem cell platform technology- Cymerus™, Cynata Therapeutics Limited (ASX: CYP) recently announced the receipt of an additional $618,667 research and development tax incentive rebate for the 2018/2019 financial year. The company also provided and update on other activities.
Cynata received $618,000 R&D Tax incentive rebate
Earlier in January 2020, Cynata therapeutics received a $1.892 million R&D tax incentive refund. The company recently received additional $619,000 R&D tax incentive rebate on 11 March 2020. The additional cash refund extends Cynata's cash reserves and facilitates additional funds to be devoted towards Cynata’s robust Phase 2 clinical programs for critical limb ischemia trial (reduced blood flow to limbs), osteoarthritis together with the expected CYP-001 phase -2 trial in graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), to be conducted by FUJIFILM.
Update on COVID-19
Cynata further notified investors regarding its plans for the ongoing Phase II trial for CLI & osteoarthritis continues to be on track. Moreover, Cynata also confirmed that due to the recent coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, the company is not facing any logistic or supply chain problem.
In addition, the company is actively answering queries and is in talks with global pharmaceutical entities regarding the potential of its Cymerus MSCs as a valuable adjunct for patient management undergoing severe & ongoing problems related to COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 causes ailments such as ARDS, CRS (cytokine release syndrome), and sepsis indications where Cynata’ Cymerus MSCs has earlier proved utility in preclinical studies, that revealed Cymerus MSCs can remarkably reduce proinflammatory cytokines levels while boosting both anti-inflammatory proteins and regulatory T cells.
Furthermore, Cynata’s most recent clinical results in China, in which critically ill COVID-19 patients has positively responded to MSCs treatment in a clinical study, strongly underpinning the potential of MSCs for treatment of COVID-19 caused illness.
- Cynata to continue its focus on advancing Cymerus MSCs development in numerous proposed forthcoming Phase II trials.
- A further progress for its CLI Phase 2 trial
- To advance Phase 2 trial planning and activities in GvHD in association with FUJIFILM
- Initiation of the osteoarthritis Phase 2 trial (planning is in the final stages).
- Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has significantly funded this 448-patient study which is anticipated to be conducted in Sydney and Tasmania’s study centers.
CYP’s shares climbed 7.5% on 11 March 2020 post the announcement. CYP lats traded at $0.730 per share, declined 2.6% as on 13 March 2020. The market capitalisation of the company stands at $77.26 million with 103.02 million outstanding shares.
Biotron Shares Soared 105% in three months Amid COVID-19 pandemic
Engaged in the research, development, as well as commercialisation of drugs to treat significant viral diseases with unmet medical need, Biotron (ASX: BIT) shares have risen by 105% in the last 3 months amid novel coronavirus pandemic. The company gained limelight in the last few weeks after it announced the evaluation of its drug candidates against coronavirus (COVID-19). As informed by the company, in the infected cell-cultures, these compounds can reduce coronavirus levels by 90 – 100 per cent. The tests are progressing as quickly as possible, as updated by Biotron in late-February.
Biotron has a library of patented small molecule compound with more than thirty compounds with demonstrated activity against a spectrum of coronaviruses, comprising human coronaviruses and the SARS coronavirus held responsible for 2003 virus outbreak.
Biotron plans to test these compounds under contract in specialist laboratories having access to this new-found virus with priority on evaluating its compounds that have displayed broad-spectrum activity against different coronaviruses. Its BIT225 product candidate is currently in clinical development for HIV-1 including a promising preclinical program for HBV.
BIT last traded at $0.100 per share, declined 13% as on 13 March 2020. The market capitalisation of the company stands at $80.72 million with 701.93 million outstanding shares.