PharmAust shares soar following promising COVID-19 treatment results

By Trevor Hoey. Published at Jun 4, 2020, in ASX Biotechs

The results of promising preliminary experiments by PharmAust Limited (ASX:PAA), indicating the suppression of a significant proportion of COVID-19 particle cell cultures resulted in the company’s shares trading 50% higher as the market opened on Thursday.

PharmAust is a clinical-stage oncology company with expertise across a broad range of areas, and it has been conducting preliminary work investigating the effects of the group’s lead drug candidate monepantel (MPL) and monepantel sulfone (MPLS) on cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 in tissue culture.

These experiments have been undertaken for PharmAust by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research virologists in accredited and controlled safety facilities at the Institute in Melbourne and have demonstrated that both infectivity and replication of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles can be suppressed by between 50%-95% in cell cultures.

The lowest inhibition value from the TCID50 assay was approximately 50% and the highest inhibition value was approximately 95%.

Virologists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute demonstrated that in preliminary experiments both monepantel and monepantel sulfone reduced the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to replicate as well as the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to mature into infectious virus particles.

Importantly, relatively low concentrations of monepantel blocked the infectious capacity of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue culture.

Experimental repeats were conducted for each experiment in quadruplicate.

Further validation of results imminent and patent application lodged

PharmAust plans further validation of these preliminary results as soon as possible.

Based on the above findings, PharmAust has moved to broaden and extend its Intellectual Property in the area of anti-viral activity through the filing of a patent application specifically covering MPL in the treatment of COVID-19.

In response to these developments, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher Professor Marc Pellegrini (MBBS BSc FRACP PhD FAHMS), joint head of the Institute’s Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division and an infectious disease clinician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital said, “These early signs demonstrating that monepantel can block SARS-CoV-2 infectivity in vitro are encouraging.”

PharmAust’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Richard Mollard outlined some of the processes involved in furthering research in saying, “PharmAust is excited by this early data set and is looking forward to continuing the project with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

‘’Continuation will involve repetition of these experiments for validation and comparisons with other mTOR inhibitors and treatments currently in the clinic”.

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