• A recent research reveals which biotech segments VCs are ploughing billions of dollars into
  • We list the ASX companies that are operating within those thematics
  • We also list the best and worst ASX biotech performers over the past week and month

Research by McKinsey showed that from 2019 to 2021, venture capitalists (VC) ploughed US$35 billion into biotech companies.

Funding peaked in the first quarter of 2021, before the gradual decline that we’ve seen until today.

The exuberance of these VCs gives a signal that they see potential breakthroughs from the current crop of biotechs.

So what potential discoveries are the VCs investing in?

Source: McKinsey. Figures in billions

According to McKinsey, VCs appear to focus on emerging technologies that can tailor treatments to individual patients, and deliver them to the target site with great accuracy.

The following platforms in particular are generating significant investor excitement:

 

Cell therapy 2.0

Cell therapy focuses on diseased tissues or cells that could in turn address a wider range of diseases.

Since the first chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy was approved in 2017, they have revolutionised the treatment of hematologic malignancies, achieving unprecedented efficacy.

New cell therapy techniques have the potential to address diseases with significant unmet needs such as solid tumours, which represent more than 90 per cent of adult cancers, as well as non-oncological conditions.

Some significant challenges however still remain in CAR T-cell therapy that could hinder broader use.

This includes the inflammatory cytokine release syndrome that sometimes produces side effects from flu-like symptoms to organ failure, and sometimes death.

On the ASX, biotechs that have CAR T-cell programs include:

Chimeric Therapeutics (ASX:CHM), Prescient Therapeutics (ASX:PTX), Imugene (ASX:IMU), AdAlta (ASX:1AD), and Immutep (ASX:IMM).

 

Next-generation gene therapies

Gene therapies have recently transformed patient treatment, offering positive outcomes for genetic disorders.

According to the McKinsey analysis, gene therapies could comprise around 20% of new product launches by 2025.

The field continues to evolve, with several biotech start-ups developing new RNA-editing tools.

Obstacles to gene therapy remain, including safety concerns of inflicting permanent DNA damage, mutagenic effects, and even cell death.

On the ASX, biotechs that have gene therapy programs include:

Avita Medical (ASX:AVH), Osteopore (ASX:OSX), Orthocell (ASX:OCC), Aroa Biosurgery (ASX:ARX), Regeneus (ASX:RGS), Anteris Technologies (ASX:AVR), and Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP).

 

Precision medicine

Precision medicine is an approach to maximise therapeutics’ effectiveness by using diagnostics devices and technology.

Advances in the ability to process enormous amounts of data combined with artificial intelligence (AI) have allowed the field to explode in recent times.

While existing diagnostics search for a few known mutations, advanced diagnostics tools can scan millions of circulating biomarkers to detect early signs of disease.

Current limits to broader use include the difficulty in translating complex genetic data into actionable clinical-care decisions.

On the ASX, biotechs that are in the precision medicine segment include:

Atomo Diagostics (ASX:AT1), Lumos Diagnostics (ASX:LMS), BCAL Diagnostics (ASX:BCL), and AnteoTech (ASX:ADO).

 

Machine learning–based drug discovery

There has been rapid advances in machine learning and AI that promise to accelerate drug discovery.

Machine learning allows drug development through computer-modeled simulations that predict molecular behaviour.

The technology is being increasingly used for phenotypic screening and genetic-profiling that can identify new genetic variants.

According to McKinsey however, challenges still remain including an insufficient number of high-quality data sets and uninterpretable algorithms.

On the ASX, biotechs that are using machine learning (not necessarily to discover new drugs per se) include:

LBT Innovations (ASX:LBT), Opyl (ASX:OPL), and PainChek (ASX:PCK), and ResApp Health (ASX:RAP).

 

Drug delivery technology

Drug delivery technology has seen significant advances as more therapies rely on new robust vehicles to target disease-specific cells.

The recent discovery of lipid nanoparticles used in mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are one of the most promising of such vehicles.

McKinsey believes that drug delivery is one of the biggest challenges for novel drugs, and significant scientific advances will be necessary to realise their full potential.

On the ASX, biotechs that focus on drug delivery technologies include:

Respiri (ASX:RSH),Suda Pharmaceuticals (ASX:SUD) , and Acrux (ASX:ACR).

 

Best and worst performing ASX biotechs in the past month

CODE COMPANY PRICE 1 WEEK RETURN % 1 MONTH RETURN % 1 YEAR RETURN % MARKET CAP
OSX Osteopore Limited 0.195 77% 30% -59% $21,108,282.84
ALT Analytica Limited 0.0015 50% 50% -40% $6,920,701.69
AN1 Anagenics Limited 0.03 43% -6% -50% $6,409,617.79
IBX Imagion Biosys Ltd 0.042 40% 2% -56% $49,333,615.50
ONE Oneview Healthcare 0.17 36% -17% -61% $82,983,280.48
MDC Medlab Clinical Ltd 0.065 35% -13% -61% $21,899,242.94
CAN Cann Group Ltd 0.32 33% -3% -21% $115,310,315.34
EXL Elixinol Wellness 0.028 33% -28% -78% $9,013,568.77
CYC Cyclopharm Limited 1.4 33% 12% -19% $126,056,011.05
PCK Painchek Ltd 0.037 32% -5% -39% $45,871,609.88
DOC Doctor Care Anywhere 0.195 30% 0% -78% $39,763,519.25
IIQ Inoviq Ltd 0.55 28% 4% -72% $50,610,286.10
4DX 4Dmedical Limited 0.585 27% -3% -54% $121,194,342.54
TRU Truscreen 0.05 25% -2% -23% $18,143,312.65
SHG Singular Health 0.115 24% -23% -63% $7,508,242.94
CBL Control Bionics 0.185 23% -24% -73% $9,311,217.61
RHT Resonance Health 0.07 23% -21% -60% $32,259,638.67
BNO Bionomics Limited 0.054 23% -10% -73% $73,080,940.18
OSL Oncosil Medical 0.049 23% -4% -25% $49,562,113.10
VHT Volpara Health Tech 0.55 22% -20% -55% $143,602,996.17
RAC Race Oncology Ltd 2.3 22% 28% -36% $344,562,729.12
NOX Noxopharm Limited 0.23 21% -22% -67% $67,214,728.50
AGH Althea Group 0.076 21% -31% -78% $23,700,365.93
1ST 1St Group Ltd 0.006 20% -33% -68% $7,729,042.90
MVP Medical Developments 1.775 20% -30% -61% $122,644,698.04
BXN Bioxyne Ltd 0.013 18% -19% -50% $8,321,890.17
IDT IDT Australia Ltd 0.13 18% -10% -60% $30,127,724.63
RAD Radiopharm 0.165 18% -11% 0% $19,596,501.38
RAD Radiopharm 0.165 18% -11% 0% $19,596,501.38
IVX Invion Ltd 0.01 18% 0% -33% $57,748,622.80
GLH Global Health Ltd 0.27 17% -7% -48% $15,295,437.09
NXS Next Science Limited 0.88 17% 21% -46% $181,497,663.23
VTI Vision Tech Inc 0.305 17% -5% -77% $7,482,221.07
MEM Memphasys Ltd 0.042 17% 5% -40% $33,271,490.15
PAR Paradigm Bio. 1.075 16% -11% -48% $238,975,584.75
DXB Dimerix Ltd 0.145 16% -15% -33% $44,922,313.24
ADR Adherium Ltd 0.008 14% -11% -56% $17,666,008.74
ATH Alterity Therap Ltd 0.016 14% -9% -54% $36,103,118.67
AT1 Atomo Diagnostics 0.066 14% -15% -67% $38,249,696.40
ADO Anteotech Ltd 0.078 13% -20% -69% $163,005,733.76
BIT Biotron Limited 0.07 13% -3% 11% $46,327,559.06
MX1 Micro-X Limited 0.145 12% -15% -57% $64,603,597.24
ZNO Zoono Group Ltd 0.15 11% -21% -77% $24,961,755.75
ALC Alcidion Group Ltd 0.1275 11% -6% -66% $164,848,976.89
AHC Austco Healthcare 0.11 10% 15% -19% $31,579,423.59
PAB Patrys Limited 0.022 10% 0% -57% $47,310,994.41
LBT LBT Innovations 0.083 9% -11% -1% $26,551,828.15
RGS Regeneus Ltd 0.06 9% 30% -23% $18,386,214.84
DVL Dorsavi Ltd 0.012 9% -25% -60% $4,277,856.62
BPH BPH Energy Ltd 0.012 9% -33% -84% $7,979,379.01
RNO Rhinomed Ltd 0.125 9% -26% -16% $35,714,961.75
CHM Chimeric Therapeutic 0.1 9% -5% -70% $31,005,190.10
EYE Nova EYE Medical Ltd 0.2 8% -5% -39% $29,115,958.20
CPH Creso Pharma Ltd 0.04 8% -22% -70% $51,855,718.12
M7T Mach7 Tech Limited 0.55 8% -8% -45% $131,354,326.40
PNV Polynovo Limited 1.515 8% 28% -42% $972,681,424.68
TLX Telix Pharmaceutical 5.12 8% 25% -11% $1,501,998,436.80
IMC Immuron Limited 0.086 8% -14% -46% $19,590,657.76
PIQ Proteomics Int Lab 0.85 7% -8% -11% $93,021,170.00
NYR Nyrada Inc. 0.16 7% 0% -56% $24,961,392.00
LDX Lumos Diagnostics 0.165 6% -28% -87% $34,634,563.59
ACW Actinogen Medical 0.051 6% -28% -59% $95,169,122.30
BWX BWX Limited 0.73 6% -43% -85% $123,180,226.95
IMU Imugene Limited 0.2275 6% 34% -35% $1,319,782,487.63
1AD Adalta Limited 0.055 6% 4% -60% $17,280,161.03
NSB Neuroscientific 0.185 6% -21% -39% $26,542,253.96
NTI Neurotech Intl 0.075 6% 14% 36% $52,327,434.45
BDX Bcaldiagnostics 0.08 5% -17% 0% $10,567,576.80
CDX Cardiex Limited 0.325 5% -26% -57% $35,751,202.50
PBP Probiotec Limited 2.35 4% 4% 14% $191,110,004.10
UBI Universal Biosensors 0.37 4% -15% -60% $76,263,996.60
ALA Arovella Therapeutic 0.025 4% -29% -60% $16,745,880.65
TRP Tissue Repair 0.255 4% 0% 0% $11,928,990.53
CU6 Clarity Pharma 0.51 4% 7% 0% $91,196,858.19
RAP Resapp Health Ltd 0.1325 4% 20% 208% $116,059,105.40
PAA Pharmaust Limited 0.08 4% -7% -14% $25,352,990.64
MVF Monash IVF Group Ltd 0.975 4% -10% 15% $377,945,794.80
ANP Antisense Therapeut. 0.085 4% -13% -60% $60,191,458.02
BOT Botanix Pharma Ltd 0.059 4% -21% -33% $56,442,240.29
EZZ EZZ Life Science 0.32 3% -3% -30% $4,083,200.00
HCT Holista CollTech Ltd 0.035 3% 0% -41% $9,637,218.05
PTX Prescient Ltd 0.175 3% -3% -33% $117,778,149.54
CYP Cynata Therapeutics 0.375 3% -1% -28% $53,728,722.75
SDI SDI Limited 0.83 2% 4% -7% $98,658,389.90
OIL Optiscan Imaging 0.1 2% -29% -56% $61,960,560.20
CAJ Capitol Health 0.28 2% -10% -26% $291,820,903.36
RSH Respiri Limited 0.059 2% 59% -21% $44,948,934.41
VLS Vita Life Sciences.. 1.83 2% -4% 66% $97,241,829.96
PSQ Pacific Smiles Grp 1.85 2% 19% -32% $295,226,585.30
KZA Kazia Therapeutics 0.625 2% -21% -54% $86,722,110.00
IMM Immutep Ltd 0.325 2% -24% -39% $272,865,541.73
HGV Hygrovest Limited 0.066 2% 3% -26% $15,176,963.01
ARX Aroa Biosurgery 0.66 2% -14% -44% $226,197,977.28
NEU Neuren Pharmaceut. 3.8 1% 0% 130% $478,669,568.80
GSS Genetic Signatures 1.165 1% -4% -7% $167,044,685.34
RCE Recce Pharmaceutical 0.86 1% 23% -10% $152,776,342.60
CMP Compumedics Limited 0.16 0% -9% -61% $28,346,071.68
AMT Allegra Orthopaedics 0.18 0% 0% -18% $18,802,656.54
ACR Acrux Limited 0.056 0% -22% -60% $15,980,421.46
TSN The Sust Nutri Grp 0.14 0% 0% -67% $16,884,893.90
SCU Stemcell United Ltd 0.014 0% 0% -18% $14,696,980.89
MEB Medibio Limited 0.002 0% -33% -75% $5,512,980.23
ICS ICSGlobal Limited 0.575313 0% 0% 0% $6,054,604.94
FFC Farmaforce Ltd 0.035 0% 0% -48% $4,573,834.30
AVE Avecho Biotech Ltd 0.013 0% -28% -28% $23,891,562.84
AC8 Auscann Grp Hlgs Ltd 0.038 0% -28% -67% $16,740,790.18
MXC Mgc Pharmaceuticals 0.017 0% -15% -58% $46,380,995.48
OVN Oventus Medical Ltd 0.02 0% -9% -79% $4,834,530.70
RHY Rhythm Biosciences 1.17 0% -3% 30% $250,476,109.65
ZLD Zelira Therapeutics 1 0% -14% -88% $9,577,116.00
GTG Genetic Technologies 0.0035 0% 0% -61% $32,318,878.00
EPN Epsilon Healthcare 0.03 0% -19% -77% $7,210,620.24
S66 Star Combo 0.155 0% -3% -38% $20,925,462.06
PAL Palla Pharma Ltd 0.295 0% 0% -21% $47,764,383.09
ICR Intelicare Holdings 0.04 0% -31% -78% $4,818,652.28
OSP Osprey Med Inc 0.2 0% 0% -86% $5,131,708.40
LCT Living Cell Tech. 0.009 0% 50% -41% $10,282,909.78
OPT Opthea Limited 1.165 -1% -14% -8% $412,018,474.14
PXS Pharmaxis Ltd 0.069 -1% -18% -25% $36,239,158.76
CTE Cryosite Limited 0.65 -2% 0% 67% $32,702,407.21
OCC Orthocell Limited 0.38 -3% 6% -37% $76,879,886.07
CGS Cogstate Ltd 1.555 -3% -7% 14% $260,919,338.16
MDR Medadvisor Limited 0.155 -3% -14% -48% $60,926,390.24
IPD Impedimed Limited 0.06 -3% -30% -43% $106,678,034.10
ILA Island Pharma 0.125 -4% -32% -57% $5,405,791.00
NC6 Nanollose Limited 0.063 -5% -26% -29% $9,230,954.82
SOM SomnoMed Limited 1.15 -5% -20% -53% $99,311,178.00
IHL Incannex Healthcare 0.225 -6% -44% -8% $288,525,156.30
IRX Inhalerx Limited 0.07 -7% -7% -30% $11,792,686.99
PGC Paragon Care Limited 0.27 -7% -7% -4% $173,952,433.17
ATX Amplia Therapeutics 0.096 -9% -26% -58% $18,624,531.46
VBS Vectus Biosystems 0.875 -10% -24% -33% $31,730,700.75
AHK Ark Mines Limited 0.18 -10% -33% 429% $5,995,818.54
PYC PYC Therapeutics 0.064 -12% -27% -60% $203,579,270.59
TD1 Tali Digital Limited 0.006 -14% -14% -82% $7,348,750.00
JTL Jayex Technology Ltd 0.005 -17% -29% -81% $1,246,142.70
HXL Hexima 0.024 -20% -93% -86% $3,993,468.78

 

Osteopore (ASX:OSX)

The company was up over 70% in the past week, continuing its meteoric rise of recent times as it continues to grow its presence in vital overseas markets.

Osteopore announced recently that it was collaborating with Singapore-based Livingstone Health to jointly develop new products for regenerating bone and tissue.

The two companies will co-develop products that improve healing in the musculoskeletal segment, with two upcoming surgeries that will see Osteopore implants being used for orthopaedic applications for the first time in Singapore. 

Cann Group (ASX:CAN)

The cannabis company surged this week after being granted a GMP (good manufacturing practice) licence to manufacture therapeutic goods at its Mildura facility.

The Mildura GMP Licence will enable Cann to manufacture Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and hard capsules, and to conduct GMP-approved activities at the facility’s existing chemistry and microbiology laboratories.

It will also allow the production of capsules for Satipharm, the company acquired by Cann in 2021.

Cyclopharm (ASX:CYC)

The medical equipment manufacturer reported record revenues for the half year to 30 June (unaudited).

CYC says unaudited group sales revenue is expected to be approximately $11.3 million, an increase of approximately 36% compared to pcp. 

It’s also 74% higher than pre-COVID revenues recorded in the first half of 2019. 

Revenues were predominantly generated from its Technegas device, and recurring revenues from consumables.

HitIQ (ASX:HIQ)

Following its extension contract with New Zealand Rugby a couple of weeks ago, HitIQ has this week secured a deal with Shock Doctor, arguably the world’s pioneer in sports performance mouthguards based in the US.

The collaboration will see the development of an off-the-shelf, self-fit mouldable mouthguard embedded with HitIQ impact sensor technology. 

It’s also set to expand HIQ’s traction in consumer markets on the back of Shock Doctor’s access to over 20,000 retail locations, as well as international markets.

Prescient Therapeutics (ASX: PTX) 

The clinical stage oncology company was granted a US patent for its OmniCAR portfolio titled: “SpyCatcher and SpyTag: Universal Immune Receptor For T Cells”.

OmniCAR is a universal immune receptor (UIR) platform that creates modular cell therapies which according to Prescient are controllable, flexible and adaptable.

The key component of the system enabling modularity is a two-part covalent binding system called SpyTag and SpyCatcher, developed by and licensed from Oxford University.

 

At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Osteopore is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.