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PharmAust share price soars 22% on shareholder update

The PharmAust Limited (ASX: PAA) share price had an impressive run on the market today, finishing 22.22% higher at 16.5 cents.

PharmAust is a clinical-stage oncology company that is developing targeted cancer therapeutics for humans and animals. 

The company’s lead drug candidate is monepantel (MPL), a novel inhibitor of the mTOR pathway which is a key driver of cancer.

Today’s rise comes as the company released a shareholder update, which summarised recent developments:

MPL shows “remarkable” results against COVID-19

In April, PharmAust began working with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research to investigate the effects of MPL and monepantel sulfone (MPLS) on the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 infections.

As disclosed in an ASX release on 18 June 2020, repeat experiments demonstrated that “infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles can be suppressed by up to 95% in cell structures by either MPL or MPLS”.

Commenting on the results, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher Professor Marc Pellegrini said:

“These exciting repeat results validate the results of the initial test and form strong grounds for progressing the drug to the next step. Demonstrating twice, that infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles can be suppressed by up to approximately 95% in cell cultures is a remarkable outcome.”

As for next steps, PharmAust will prepare an executive summary and investigator’s brochure to permit discussions with clinicians about a Phase I trial. The trial would involve a small number of human patients to test the efficacy of MPL as a treatment for COVID-19.

MPL canine trial achieves successful anti-cancer outcome

The next section of today’s shareholder update relates to a canine trial. 

As announced on 12 May, PharmAust achieved a successful outcome in the veterinary Phase II clinical trial investigating the effects of MPL on dogs with treatment-naïve B cell lymphoma.

The company advised today that a dossier will be presented to the MPL compound owner and option partner, Vet Major, in July 2020. This will provide Vet Major with the opportunity to activate its 6-month exclusive option over the licensing of MPL for veterinary uses.

Phase II human cancer trial

PharmAust also confirmed today it continues to make progress towards the evaluation of MPL in human trials.

The company completed a Phase I clinical trial at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2015.

PharmAust has since conducted further tablet formulation and pharmacokinetic studies. It has also investigated changes in tablet size to enable more specific targeting of calculated optimum dose levels.

With this, the company is aiming to conduct a third GMP-grade manufacture program for MPL tablets in or around Q3 2020 to cater to future human trials.

PharmAust is also seeking to identify a suitable clinical oncology unit to evaluate the new MPL tablet in humans in a Phase II trial.

Epichem

Finally, PharmAust provided an update on its wholly-owned subsidiary, Epichem. 

Epichem is a profitable medicinal and synthetic chemistry company with expertise and capacity in the field of drug development, discovery, and design.

Today, PharmAust revealed that Epichem is on track to deliver $3.46 million revenue in FY20. This is an increase on the $3.34 million projected revenue forecast provided back in January.

After today’s jump, PharmAust’s market capitalisation is sitting a touch under $50 million. If you’d rather invest in much larger and more liquid companies, check out the ASX growth shares in the free report below.

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Motley Fool contributor Cathryn Goh has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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 Scott Phillips.

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