Are there any attractive opportunities in Health Care Space amidst COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Mar 16, 2020 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Are there any attractive opportunities in Health Care Space amidst COVID-19 pandemic?

World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, as the deadly disease has taken a toll across the globe with China and Italy being the worst hit countries. The coronavirus infection has surpassed a figure of 170,000 with more than 6,500 deaths worldwide.

The need of the hour here is an efficient antidote to prevent the deadly coronavirus transmission infecting a further larger number of people. The entire biotech industry, including both pharmaceutical companies & research organisations throughout the globe is now trying to come up with measures to contain the virus and to develop novel coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible; however, development of safe & effective vaccines entails heaps of time, money plus effective research.

Coronavirus outbreak has significantly impacted the share market, with Dow Jones Futures plunging sharply on Monday, 16 March 2020, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures reaching limit down once again. The Australian stock market; S&P/ASX 200 Index (INDEX ASX: XJO) also sank steeply by approximately 9.7% or 537.3 points to settle at 5002. The influence of soaring coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 was also visible on the health care sector, S&P/ASX 200 Health Care sector (XHJ), which after the close of the trade session on 16 March 2020, settled at 39,302.1, down by 4343.8 basis points or 9.95%.

Amid growing concern of COVID-19, the Australian health care sector, being one of the best in the world, still hold attractive opportunities for investors.

In this article, we will be discussing three ASX-listed health care stocks with their last ASX updates pertaining to encouraging clinical development. Let’s have a look.

Biotron Limited (ASX: BIT) - Did Biotron find a treatment for HIV?

There seems a ray of hope for HIV patients, as the drug developer engaged in R&D and commercialisation of drugs for treatment of major viral disorders with unmet medical need, Biotron Limited (ASX: BIT) recently discovered that its anti-HIV therapy BIT225 restores body’s immune function in HIV-infected patients.

In late-2018, BIT225-009 Phase 2 HIV-1 clinical trial revealed that statistically significant changes to key immune cell populations are induced by BIT225, since then the Company continued to characterise the unique mechanism of action for BIT225. The recent data further exemplifies the formerly reported immune regulating impacts of BIT225, unveiling that the HIV-infected cells, that continue to persist in the patients’ body even after the treatment with approved anti-HIV-1 drugs, are unmasked by BIT225.

The data suggests that the addition of BIT225 to anti-HIV-1 drugs stimulates the innate immune system to enable the body’s cells to “visualise” the HIV-infected reservoir cells and take the essential measures to eliminate any residual virus. Typically, these reservoir cells are hidden from the immune system and therefore, HIV patients need treatment for life.

The promising results may have overwhelming effects for future HIV-1 infection and cure.

In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic scare, Biotron is currently testing its compounds targeting to inhibit growth of this novel coronavirus.

Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX: BOT)- Botanix Drug Kills Bacteria Within Minutes

Clinical-stage synthetic cannabinoid company Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX: BOT) recently announced noteworthy development with its antimicrobial platform. The Company also unveiled initiation of a Phase 2a clinical study for BTX 1801, aiming for the prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs), mainly caused by resistance forming bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Staph inhabited patients at ICU admission are nearly fifteen times more at risk, in comparison to non-colonised patients.

Latest data released by Botanix shows that MRSA bacteria is rapidly killed by synthetic cannabidiol within 10 minutes of exposure, using a novel mode of action without letting resistance to develop, and is a highly effective skin decolonisation agent.

Botanix’ BTX 1801 is more effective than other market leading decolonisation agent, mupirocin, at decolonising MRSA. These latest results, together with previous pre-clinical work, strongly underpin BTX 1801 to be used as an ideal product for SSIs prevention via nasal decolonisation of Staph and MRSA.

The Company has designed the BTX 1801 Phase 2a clinical study, involving a total of 60 volunteers being treated for five days, to develop a proof of concept data, underpinning its rapid progression into a pivotal clinical study to target FDA registration. It would be a double-blind and vehicle-controlled Phase 2a study, aiming at determining BTX1801’s safety, tolerability as well as efficacy formulations in decolonising Staph and MRSA from healthy adults’ nose.

With the final preparations for the BTX1801 Phase 2a study progressing, the Company anticipates enrolling its 1st participant early in the second quarter of the calendar year 2020.

Cannabinoids have Significant Global Antibiotics Market Opportunity

For both topical and other applications, cannabinoids have a significant opportunity to enter into the global antibiotic market.

Orthocell Limited (ASX: OCC) - Promising Outcome for Orthocell’s CelGro®

Regenerative medicine company Orthocell Limited (ASX: OCC) recently reported positive findings for its guided bone regeneration study, conducted in collaboration with renowned research scientist Professor Lynne Opperman, a craniofacial bone repair expert of Texas A&M University, and Professor Ming Hao Zheng, University of WA.

The results are an important component of the FDA submission process for gaining US marketing approval, displaying successful bone growth using CelGro®.

The US FDA regulatory study underlines preceding clinical trial data demonstrating that CelGro® is effective in boosting high-quality regeneration of bone when used in combination with bone substitute and a dental implant, together with a significant reduction in the duration of treatment (around 40%).

All patients effectively generated ample new bone stabilising their implants and completed their treatment within almost half the time (an average of 4 months) of the usual two-stage dental implant treatment (8-months)

These encouraging results would aid in guiding Orthocell’s entry into the US market and placing the Company to implement on its partnering strategy. Orthocell is now placed well to secure US approval that would lead to further commercialisation of CelGro®, with the US regulatory application intended for the first quarter of the calendar year 2020.

The addressable market for CelGro® in dental restoration is expected to be valued over US$1 billion /year.

Furthermore, the study results bolster outcomes from Orthocell’s GBR study conducted in humans, indicating that CelGro® leads to rapid formation of high quality, mature bone across dental implants, as announced in June 2019.

Stock Information

  • Biotron Limited, ASX: BIT settled the day’s trade at $0.095 per share, declined by 5% from its previous close on 16 March 2020. The market capitalisation of the Company stood at $70.19 million with ~701.93 million outstanding shares, delivering a positive return of 92.31% on a year-to-date basis.
  • Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited, ASX: BOT last traded at $0.070 per share on 16 March 2020, down 2.7% from its previous close. The market capitalisation of the Company stood at $70.03 million with ~972.7 million outstanding shares, delivering a negative return of 12.20% on a year-to-date basis.
  • Orthocell Limited, ASX: OCC ended the day’s trade at $0.260 on 16 March 2020, down 3.704% from its previous close. The market capitalisation of the Company was noted at $49.87 million with ~184.7 million outstanding shares. OCC’s stock delivered a negative return of 46% on a year-to-date basis.

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