- Several healthcare companies are in a race to develop a treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19. However, we do not have an approved treatment or vaccine for the deadly infection yet.
- Recently, an Australian clinical-stage healthcare player, PharmAust joined the race to find a suitable treatment to combat the novel coronavirus by using its lead compound- monepantel (MPL).
- Preliminary findings disclosed that both MPL and MPLS treatment reduces up to approximately 95% SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in cell culture.
Healthcare sector has been one of the best-performing industries on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) from the previous year. Several companies from the healthcare sector in Australia have witnessed a surge in share price despite the market instabilities that have taken place amidst the COVID-19-induced turmoil.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is now being considered as the Great Virus Crisis (GVC) by many. The infectious disease has taken thousands of lives, and we do not have a proven treatment/vaccine to date.
As it is said that a crisis always creates opportunities for innovation; likewise, this pandemic has generated prospects for the healthcare sector. Several small-cap healthcare companies are joining the race to develop a safe and effective treatment by using their lead candidate.
Let us delve deep and discuss what PharmAust has announced today:
On 18 June 2020, PharmAust provided an update on its repeat cell culture preliminary tests studying the effects of its lead compound monepantel and monepantel sulfone upon severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infected cells.
Post the announcement, PharmAust stock quoted at A$0.135, surging 22.727% on 18 June 2020, with a market capitalisation of ~A$40.77 million and almost 302.02 million outstanding shares. In the last three months, PharmAust stock has delivered an impressive return of 92.86%.
About PharmAust Limited
ASX-listed clinical-stage healthcare company PharmAust Limited (ASX:PAA) is into the development of targeted cancer treatment for both humans as well as animals. PharmAust spotlights on the repurposing of already marketed drugs and thus reduces the risks in conjunction with developmental costs. Monepantel (MPL) is the lead candidate of PAA, is an effective and safe inhibitor of a key driver mTOR pathway for cancer therapy.
Commercial Catalysts of PharmAust:
Confirmation of Preliminary Findings for In Vitro treatment of COVID-19 by MPL
PharmAust provided an update on its repeat cell culture preliminary tests conducted for investigating the effects of its lead compound monepantel (MPL) and monepantel sulfone (MPLS) on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infected cells in cell culture.
The Company disclosed that replication of the in-vitro virus infectivity experiment and using the same Tissue Culture Infectious Dose (TCID50) method, as that revealed on 4 June 2020, confirmed the initial results.
Previously, PharmAust had disclosed that for the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) individual tests, the degree of suppression was around 55%. qPCR as well as TCID50, both demonstrated antiviral activity of monepantel in the previous experimental set, and only TCID50 was performed in the repeat at this time.
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These repeat experiments were undertaken for PharmAust by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research virologists and again demonstrated that infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles can be suppressed by up to almost 95% in cell cultures by either MPL or MPLS.
The Company is engaged in further discussions with the Institute to inspect crucial next steps to discover the significance of this work further, comprising, prominently, comparison with other mTOR pathways inhibitors, like rapamycin as well as current antiviral drugs that are authorised by the FDA for emergency application to treat COVID-19, like remdesivir.
Moreover, PharmAust stated that the Company would prepare an executive summary along with an Investigator's Brochure to permit discussions with clinicians about a Phase 1 clinical trial in a small number of human patients to treat COVID-19.
The lead compound of PharmAust- MPL has already been assessed in human patients with cancer. The preliminary findings were evaluated in-vitro by using African Green Monkey VERO cells infected by SARS-CoV-2.
The findings revealed that both monepantel and monepantel sulfone treatments demonstrate a reduction in SARS-CoV-2 cell-to-cell infectivity in cell culture in a repeat preliminary evaluation.
With several healthcare companies around the world burning the midnight oil to find a safe and effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, we should be optimistic and keep our hopes up. However, with a lot of unknowns surrounding the virus and its mutation, it seems like a challenge to develop an effective vaccine/treatment.
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