Nuclear medicine company Cyclopharm (ASX:CYC) says its radioactive gas could be useful to diagnose cases of COVID-19.

It has developed a gas made of radioactive carbon that is inhaled via a breathing apparatus. The carbon is picked up by gamma imaging to identify pulmonary embolisms, or arterial blockages in the lungs.

But the company says it could also be used to identify damage and inflammation to the lining of the lung caused by coronavirus, in addition to the current method of lab testing samples.

“Currently, the primary diagnostic method for determining the presence of the COVID-19 virus is a laboratory test,” the company said.

“We are receiving reports of an increase in the use of Technegas to differentiate between COVID-19 and pulmonary embolism where laboratory tests results cannot be attained quickly.”


It says delays in the use of its gas in non-critical procedures will rise once gathering restrictions are lifted.

The gas used the technetium-99m isotope which is produced from the decay of Molybdenum-99. Cyclopharm says the supply chain for the latter has not been interrupted.

While the gas is approved for use in several locations around the world, Cyclopharm says it is now ready to file its New Drug Application (NDA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The United States is the largest nuclear medicine market in the world and the company is forecasting $US90m in sales a year. It is predicting that it will take an ambitious 50 per cent market share within three years of launch in the US.


In other ASX health news:

A dermatitis treatment being tested by pot stock Botanix (ASX:BOT) has failed to meet primary and secondary endpoints in a phase two clinical trial. It performed slightly worse than an existing treatment for the primary endpoint.

Immutep (ASX:IMM) says data from its phase IIb AIPAC clinical trial in metastatic breast cancer met both endpoints, with more patients progression free after six months and a high overall response rate.

The US FDA has awarded Amplia Therapeutics’ (ASX:ATX) pancreatic cancer treatment Orphan Drug designation. Amplia is aiming to start a phase one clinical trial later this year.