Sirtex Medical Limited flags Histone program as multi-billion dollar opportunity

Credit: Sirtex Medical

This morning radiotherapy cancer treatment specialist Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX: SRX) hosted a research and development day for medical professionals and investors to showcase four new platform technologies it is working on for potential commercialisation.

The company spent around $10.8 million on pre-clinical or early stage research and development in financial year 2016 that is unrelated to the multiple clinical trials it has ongoing to promote the efficacy of its SIR-Spheres in treating liver cancer and related conditions.

Its four new technology platforms being researched are:

  1. Radioprotector
  2. Carbon-cage Nanoparticles
  3. Polymer Coated Nanoparticles
  4. Histone Inhibition Program (HIP)

Investors keen to find out more on the first three can read this morning’s presentation released to the ASX, although on first glance it seems that the Histone Inhibition Program (HIP) is the most developed and carries the most potential for effective commercialisation. The chief executive this morning describing it as an “exciting program” with “quite significant potential”.

What is the HIP?

This program is being worked on partly with the Australan National University to develop a treatment for sepsis which is a “life threatening inflammatory response to infection that has spread throughout the body”.

The HIP is “developing novel compounds specifically targeting extracellular histones in the treatment of sepsis”.

There’s no doubt that any successfully developed treatment could have blockbuster potential due to the large unmet clinical need for the treatment of a common condition in sepsis, and importantly Sirtex plans to commence a Phase I clinical trial into its treatment in the first half of 2017.

There are reportedly two rival drug producers that have treatments for sepsis at the Phase III trial stage already, with Spectral Medical’s Toraymyxin tipped to hit the market sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Sirtex aims to move its HIP trials into the Phase II stage in 2018 with the “potential for fast-track, orphan drug and breakthrough therapy designation” from the gatekeeper to the US healthcare market the FDA.

Sirtex concluded by stating that the HIP program offers “multi-billion dollar contestable market opportunities”.

This looks the headline news with the other three programs at an earlier stage, although investors must remember the HIP program is currently at a pre-clinical stage itself and therefore falls into the speculative bucket.

The main game for Sirtex remains sales of its radioactive spheres with the company forecasting more double-digit growth in FY17, with the shares looking good value at $28.73 just on the strength of this standalone business in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson owns shares of Sirtex Medical Limited.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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