Today three more ASX small caps entered the fight against COVID-19 and all of them are notching share price gains.

The candidates PharmAust (ASX:PAA), Harris Technology (ASX:HT8) and Genetic Technologies (ASX:GTG) all rose by at least 30 per cent this morning.

Of these stocks, Harris Technology led the charge, with its shares more than doubling in price.


A potential antidote?

While many companies are working on a COVID-19 vaccine from scratch, other companies are looking at treatments that already exist for other diseases. PharmAust is doing this with its lead drug candidate monepantel.

Monepantel fights cancer by inhibiting a signalling pathway in the cell cycle, specifically the mTOR pathway.

It was preparing to launch a phase two clinical trial testing the drug against cancer but is now looking to test it against COVID-19.

PharmAust entered into a Materials Transfer Agreement with a Melbourne medical research institute to test the effects of the drug. Preliminary data is expected in May 2020.

Stockhead contacted PharmAust chief scientific officer Richard Molloy for comment, but he was unable to give too many details away.

“How it [monepantel] works in cancer may also be of benefit to certain viral diseases like COVID-19,” he said.


If demand is here to stay, why not capitalise?

Genetic Technologies (ASX:GTG) typically fights breast cancer but today unveiled a plan to enable its labs to transition temporarily to COVID-19 testing.

While the company does not yet have any agreements to provide testing it expects a spike in demand for COVID-19 testing.

It says it is in a position to conduct approximately 360,000 tests per annum with current capacity.

Stockhead has contacted the company for further comment.

Similarly jumping on a market anticipated to be hot for a while to come is online shopping website operator Harris Technology (ASX:HT8).

It launched a range of protective hygiene products including face masks, alcohol wipes and hand sanitisers.

The company expects to begin sales in early May with its first shipment being 90,000 units strong.

Similar to other companies pivoting into this space, managing director Garrison Huang thinks this is not a short-term money grab but a long-term trend that is here to stay.

“We expect that spending by consumers on PPE products will be far greater in 2020 and onwards than it has been in the past,” he said.