Special Report: Melbourne biotech company Dimerix (ASX:DXB) is working with independent researchers to ship its lead drug candidate DMX-200 to a number of hospitals around the world as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

A chemokine receptor (CCR2) blocker, DMX-200 was selected for inclusion in a global clinical trial evaluating treatments for acute illness related to COVID-19.

While research to date has centered around using DMX-200 to treat kidney disease, it’s believed that the oral capsule could have much broader potential.

The drug works by inhibiting a cellular receptor activated by a pro-inflammatory protein known as MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1), and thus could potentially be used to treat any disease where the signaling protein is driving inflammation.

Dimerix says that having its intellectual property included in a global trial of this magnitude generates an enormous value creation opportunity for the company and its shareholders.

If DMX-200 shows some benefit for COVID-19, it could also be used to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) associated with other infections too, such as pneumonia and influenza.

Government funding awarded

In September, the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, administered by MTPConnect, awarded Dimerix $1 million to support DMX-200’s inclusion in the global study.

REMAP-CAP (Randomized, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia) began as a global initiative to examine pneumonia treatments but investigators quickly pivoted to COVID-19 treatments once the pandemic stuck.

The renin angiotensin system (RAS) part of the study will use DMX-200 in combination with an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), a class of drugs typically used to control high blood pressure and heart failure.

“There is a compelling biologic rationale to imbed DMX-200 into the RAS domain of the REMAP-CAP COVID trial, where its potential therapeutic effects may combine with those of angiotensin receptor blockers to reduce the organ support requirements, including ventilation, and death in patients hospitalised with COVID-19,” says Dr Patrick Lawler, REMAP-CAP RAS Domain Specific Working Group chairman and a clinician-scientist at Toronto General Hospital.

“REMAP-CAP is working closely with Dimerix to rapidly obtain the necessary regulatory approvals as the next step in this program.”

Dimerix says it now will submit Investigational New Drug applications, or equivalents, in Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada, so clinicians at the hospitals enrolled into the study can begin treating patients at those locations.

The company has already manufactured a pharmaceutical grade batch of DMX-200 for supply into the study.

Over 7,000 patients at over 260 sites across 16 countries are expected to eventually be enrolled into the REMAP-CAP study in total, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization.

“We are extremely pleased to support this global initiative investigating the potential of multiple therapies to treat COVID-19 patients dying of ARDS,” says Dr Nina Webster, chief executive and managing director of Dimerix.

“We acknowledge the time and effort that the REMAP-CAP team have spent in preparing a well-designed and robust clinical study domain to assess the effect of our compound in these patients.”

Other work progressing

Meanwhile, Dimerix has a number of other irons in the fire.

The company is progressing DMX-200 to a phase 3 trial to treat the kidney disease known as FSGS; is further analysing a phase 2 clinical trial of the drug to treat diabetic kidney disease that completed in September; and is developing DMX-700 as a potential treatment in constructive obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide.

The FSGS trial should begin in the first half of 2021, Webster says.

This article was developed in collaboration with Dimerix, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.