- Worldwide, there are several healthcare players in a race to develop treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19. However, until now, there is no approved treatment or therapy to combat COVID-19.
- The drug development process is very complex and prolonged; therefore, scientists across the globe are investigating already approved drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.
- Recently, PharmAust also joined the race of developing treatment against this deadly infection with its lead drug candidate- monepantel (MPL).
- Further, Dimerix disclosed about its drug DMX-200 to be included in a clinical trial for COVID-19 induced ARDS treatment.
Currently, the world is dealing with an unimaginable and unprecedented serious catastrophe. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 6.5 million individuals across the world and led to nearly 3,87,155 deaths as reported to WHO (at CEST 6:44 PM, 5 June 2020).
With COVID-19 creating havoc around the globe, therapeutic interventions are urgently needed this time not only for curing severe cases of the coronavirus, but also for safeguarding all front-line health care service providers. While the drug development process is complex and prolonged, several pharmaceutical players and researchers have rushed to examine and use drugs that have been approved by regulatory agencies.
In the global hunt for COVID-19 treatments, many pharmaceutical and biotech companies have joined with their lead candidates.
In this article, we will be highlighting two ASX-listed healthcare sector players who have recently joined the race of developing a treatment for COVID-19.
Let us zoom lens for PAA and DXB-
PharmAust’s Lead Cancer Candidate MPL Could Suppress COVID-19 Infection
A clinical-stage ASX-listed healthcare company PharmAust Limited (ASX:PAA) is engaged in the development of targeted cancer therapies for humans as well as for animals. PharmAust specialises in repurposing of marketed drugs hence reducing the risks along with developmental costs. Epichem, a subsidiary of PharmAust is a contract medicinal chemistry company.
The lead candidate of PAA is monepantel (MPL) which is a safe and potent inhibitor of a key driver mTOR pathway in treating tumours.
On 4 June 2020, PharmAust disclosed about its initial work investigating the effects of monepantel and monepantel sulfone (MPLS) on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infected cells.
The study has been conducted by the virologists of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in accredited and controlled safety capacities at Melbourne. Experiments showed that both infectivity, as well as replication of coronavirus particles, could be inhibited by between 50 to 95% in cell cultures.
The lowest inhibition value from the tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) assay was almost 50%, and the maximum inhibition value was nearly 95%.
Moreover, the Company disclosed that for the quantitative polymerase chain reaction individual tests, the degree of suppression was around 55%. Notably, PharmAust intends to conduct further validation studies of these preliminary outcomes as soon as possible.
PharmAust’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Richard Mollard said-
On 5 June 2020, stock of PAA closed the day’s trade at AUD 0.110 down by 4.348% from its previous close. The market cap of the stock stands at AUD 34.73 million. In the last three months, the Company has generated a positive return of 27.78%, and in the previous three months has generated return of 18.56%.
DMX-200 to be Included in Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Induced ARDS Treatment
A clinical-stage healthcare sector player Dimerix Limited (ASX:DXB) is developing innovative new therapies in areas with unmet medical needs for global markets. DXB has scalable, proprietary platform technology known as Receptor Heteromer Investigation Technology (Receptor-HIT). The Company has successfully applied this technology for identification of a new drug compound- DMX-200 for treatment of kidney disease. Dimerix comprises 2 distinct entities Dimerix Limited and Dimerix Biosciences Pty Ltd.
The Company has total of four drug candidates under pipeline, with three clinical readouts anticipated in upcoming months.
Brief about DMX-200
DMX-200 is the adjunct therapy of a CCR2 antagonist given to individuals already receiving irbesartan, an AT1 receptor blocker and the standard of care medication for kidney related disorders.
Dimerix has been awarded patents for DMX-200 in several territories with expiry in 2032.
DMX-200 for focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) has been granted Orphan Drug Designation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moreover, the drug is also under investigation as a potential treatment for COVID-19 associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
DMX-200 for Treatment of ARDS in COVID-19 Patients
On 4 June 2020, Dimerix revealed that its lead compound DMX-200 has been selected for inclusion in the protocol as a new treatment in the global clinical trial program intended to treat patients with ARDS because of COVID-19. The program is endorsed by the WHO and named as a Pandemic Special Study.
The trial is called REMAP-CAP, which is a global adaptive platform trial operated by a network of leading specialists, institutions, along with some research groups collaborating on an international level.
On the basis of the well-known impact in lungs of COVID-19 patients, DMX-200 can provide benefit in ARDS patients with COVID-19 by decreasing the inflammatory response in the lungs and therefore lowering inflammation as well as subsequent fibrosis.
Dimerix has registered provisional patent applications besides its existing granted patents in all major jurisdictions for application of any chemokine receptor (CCR2) inhibitor, comprising DMX-200, in ARDS.
Moreover, DMX-200 phase 2 clinical trials for kidney disease remain on track and budget, with outcomes anticipated mid-2020.
On 5 June 2020, DXB stock settled the day’s trade at AUD 0.430 down by 4.44% as compared to its previous closed. With the market cap of nearly AUD 81.69 million, DXB stock has almost 181.53 million shares trading on ASX. In the last three months, DXB stock has delivered a positive return of 172.73% and in the previous six months it has delivered an outstanding return of 233.3%.