The PharmAust Limited (ASX: PAA) share price is shooting upwards following an update on its antiviral program. In late afternoon trade, the PharmAust share price is trading for 11 cents apiece, up 7.1%.
What did PharmAust announce?
Investors are pushing PharmAust shares higher after taking in the company’s progress on antiviral activity against COVID-19.
In its announcement, PharmAust provided an update on its lead drug candidates as antiviral therapeutics. These include monepantel (MPL) and also monepantel sulfone (MPLS).
The company stated that data from extensive testing at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) has demonstrated antiviral activity in non-human primate systems. This follows two previous independent laboratories that conducted MPL’s antiviral activity in both primate and non-primate cell cultures mid-last year.
MPL and its metabolite MPLS are potent and safe inhibitor of the mTOR pathway. This is the pathway that influences cancer growth, neurodegenerative diseases, and viral infections. MPL has been evaluated in the human phase 1 trial and exhibited preliminary evidence of anticancer activity.
PharmAust noted that solubility issues of MPL in the in-vitro systems remain challenging. However, it has resolved solubility issues of the administration to patients through developing an MPL tablet dosage form.
When consumed, MPL is converted to MPLS in the body, representing the dominant form in a person’s plasma.
Principal investigator at LUMC, associate professor Martijn van Hemert commented:
There are indications for an antiviral effect in these assays, but solubility issues under the conditions required for cell-based screening complicate analysis. Additional experiments will now be performed on SARS-CoV-2 infected human lung cell lines
PharmAust Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Richard Mollard added:
Testing highly insoluble drugs such as MPL in established complex culture conditions is notoriously difficult. We look forward to updating the market as these programs continue.
PharmAust and LUMC will seek to move its antiviral development program to testing in human cells.
PharmAust share price snapshot
Over the past 12 months, the PharmAust share price has accelerated over 50% of its value. Most of the gains came from June 2020 when the company announced its preliminary COVID-19 results.
On valuation grounds, PharmAust presides a market capitalisation of around $33.2 million, with 316.7 million shares outstanding.