The stock price of Sydney based healthcare player, Biotron Limited (ASX:BIT) increased by approximately a quarter percent during the day’s trade on 10 February 2020. The stock settled at the price of $0.157, moving closer to its 52-weeks high price of $0.165, which was recorded on the same day. However, on 11 February 2020, BIT was trading at $0.142, plunging down by 11.25 percent (at AEDT 1:35 PM).
Also, the stock has given a return of 86.05% during the last five days period and the company has a market capitalisation of $112.31 million.
The S&P/ASX 200 Health Care (Sector) was trading at 47,084.9 points gaining 342.9 points (0.73%) on 11 February 2020 (at AEDT 1:45 PM). Moreover, the S&P/ASX 200 Health Care (Sector) was amongst the top gainers during the day’s trade on 10 February 2020. While the Australian benchmark index, on 11 February 2020, S&P/ASX200 was trading at 7058.7 points, gaining 0.7 percent (at AEDT 1:53 PM).
Being a Clinical stage Biotechnology Company, Biotron Limited is actively involved in the research, development, and commercialisation of drugs and focuses on significant viral diseases with unmet medical need.
The Company recently announced its current engagement in evaluating several encouraging compounds for activity against coronavirus, including the new novel strain known as 2019-nCoV.
Further, the Company mentions that it has more than 30 compounds with good activity against a range of coronaviruses within its proprietary small molecule compound library, including:
- human coronaviruses that cause mild, cold-like symptoms, and
- the SARS coronavirus that was responsible for the outbreak of that virus in 2003.
The coronavirus has brought unquantifiable misery to the world, especially China, on the economic, social, as well as other fronts. The ‘Daily briefing on novel coronavirus cases in China’ for 10 February 2020 stated the following:
- 3,062 new cases of confirmed infections (including 2,618 in Hubei province),
- 4,008 new cases of suspected infections (including 2,272 in Hubei province),
- 296 new serious cases (including 258 in Hubei province) and
- 97 deaths (91 in Hubei province, 2 in Anhui province, 1 in Heilongjiang province, 1 in Jiangxi province, 1 in Hainan province, and 1 in Gansu province).
By 09 February 2020, there were 40,171 reports of confirmed cases received by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China.
The losses on various fronts, especially the economic slowdown, is only predicted and no exact numbers can be pronounced. With cities in complete lockdown and travel bans imposed currently, it is hard to predict the sigh of relief from the coronavirus.
In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak in China, Biotron is now focused on testing a select set of these compounds against the new 2019-nCoV and the work shall be executed under contract in specialist laboratories that have access to this new virus, which has only been isolated and made available for such studies in recent days.
Biotron looks forward to prioritising the testing of its compounds that have shown broad-spectrum activity against different coronaviruses, while having the expertise in the design and development of drugs known as viroporins that target virus-encoded proteins.
The data showing that the E protein of the coronavirus is viroporin and a good target for antiviral drugs, was first identified and published by Biotron’s scientists, and the company has continued to progress earlier stage research on the development of drugs to target respiratory infections including coronaviruses.
The Company’s focus has been on its -
- Lead clinical HIV-1 eradication program, and
- Promising preclinical Hepatitis B virus (HBV) program.
The coronavirus outbreak appears to propel the Company’s stock performance and has delivered 196.30% return during the last one month till 10 February 2020.
BIT recently released its cash flows statement on 24 January 2019. For the quarter ended 31 December 2019, it reported cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period at $ 8, 669,000 and estimates total cash outflows of $ 1,483,000 for the next quarter.
The Company’s Net cash from / (used in) operating activities stood at $1,231,000, which includes $932,000 spent on research and development.
As a research and development-driven company, Biotron continues to progress patents related to its antiviral programs through the international patenting process and recognises that the key to the establishment of partnerships is the expansion and continued strengthening of Biotron’s intellectual property portfolio.
Source: Company's Website
BIT believes that strong, defensible and global patents are an important ingredient to appeal to partners and ensures a competitive advantage for the Company’s products in the marketplace.
Biotron’s lead drug - BIT225, is currently in Phase 2 clinical development for the treatment of both HIV-1 and HCV, wherein:
- For HIV-1, BIT225 offers the potential to eradicate reservoirs of virus found in long-lived macrophage cells, which contribute to the need for life-long treatment with antiretroviral drugs;
- Eradication or cure of HIV-1 infection remains the holy grail of HIV-1 treatment strategies, and
- For HCV, BIT225 offers potential as a new class of oral direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drug that may be used in combination with other new classes of DAAs, offering future treatment options within the complex field of HCV treatment strategies.
Source: Company's Website
Other than its clinical-stage programs for the drug - BIT225, BIT has initial- phase programs aiming at budding viruses with considerable influence on health and economy, for example Zika and Dengue.