The painful, debilitating Ross River virus is Australia’s most common mosquito-spread disease, infecting around 4000 people a year, yet the only symptomatic treatments are Panadol or anti-inflammatories.

It doesn’t kill, but the fatigue, swelling and joint pain cost the economy an estimated $2.7-5.6m every year.

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Paradigm Pharmaceuticals (ASX:PAR) believes it may have a solution: an injected arthritis drug that has just passed a phase 2a clinical trial.

A phase 2a is a trial that tests the dose level. In this case, it was a randomised, double-blinded and placebo-controlled trial on people with chronic Ross River virus-induced arthralgia — joint pain or stiffness.

Paradigm said the trial proved its treatment was safe as well as reduced the disease symptoms.

Of the 18 people treated, 11 were injected with an active drug and seven received a placebo.

After three months, eight of the 11 treated showed “near remission” of symptoms compared to one of the seven who received a placebo.

Paradigm’s drug, pentosan polysulfate sodium, is currently used to treat cystitis and deep vein thrombosis.

The Australian company is repurposing it for a range of joint pain and inflammation diseases such as osteoarthritis and bone marrow lesions which cause joint pain.

Stockhead is seeking comment from paradigm as to what the next steps are for turning the treatment into a Ross River virus drug. As yet, all the company has said is the data “will support discussions with US Department of Defence and pharmaceutical companies”.


Tuesday’s big biotech news:

Bod Australia (ASX:BDA) shares rose as high as 20 per cent on Tuesday morning after the medical cannabis company said it was supplying the goods for a PTSD clinical trial run by Australian marijuana clinic, Cannabis Access Clinics. Bod will supply a 5 per cent cannabidiol (CBD) extract for a 12-month trial. Cannabis Access Clinics said two weeks ago it had ethics approval for a trial, supposed to start last month, of 300 patients already prescribed medical cannabis for their condition.
Starpharma (ASX:SPL) has launched its antiviral condom in Japan, a banana pyjama coated in the company’s HPV, HIV and herpes resistant gel.

In what must feel like the world’s slowest cure for doggy cancer, PharmAust (ASX:PAA) is finally making the tablet it plans to put through phase 2 trials on dog with B cell lymphoma. The company had to reformulate the pill, made using an active ingredient in animal drench called monepantel, in 2017 in order to make it taste less vile so dogs would accept it, with the plan that they’d test it on dogs first and then port the data over to fast-tracked human trials.

It said that once the pill is made it’ll be good for humans and dogs, but it’s aiming for phase 2 dog trials to start in August/September before putting humans through their paces.
On Monday Volpara (ASX:VHT) came out of the weekend with big news: a $55m capital raising and a $21.15m acquisition of medical software company MRS.
Volpara’s AI-based technology looks at breast density, an increasingly accepted risk factor for breast cancer. It expects the deal to further solidify its presence in the US, where MRS has about 20 per cent of the market for software in breast clinics. The stock hasn’t yet come out of a trading halt it entered on Friday.