As global authorities race to contain the outbreak of coronavirus, Aussie healthcare stock Biotron (ASX:BIT) thinks it may be able to help.

The company’s primary focus is anti-virus medications for HIV and Hepatitis B, via the development of drugs that target virus-encoded proteins called viroporins.

As part of their research, Biotron scientists also identified that the E Protein in coronavirus is a viroporin, which makes it “a good target for antiviral drugs”.

Biotron has a “proprietary library” of different compounds used in the treatment of viral diseases. And it’s now assessing those compounds for applicability in tackling the current coronavirus outbreak directly.

With the current coronavirus still a major focus worldwide, markets approved of Biotron efforts to leverage its IP in treatment of nCoV. The stock was one of the big movers at the opening bell, climbing by almost 20 per cent in morning trade.


The company said it had “over 30 compounds with good activity against a range of coronaviruses”, including milder variants of the disease as well as the lethal SARS strain which caused a major health scare in 2003.

And it’s now assessing “several promising compounds” with potential to treat the current strain known as 2019-nCoV.

The latest figures place the number of nCoV cases worldwide at around 25,000, with 490 deaths — a mortality rate of around 2 per cent.

Biotron said it would now carry out further testing of those compounds on nCoV cell cultures, which had recently been made available for testing in specialist laboratories.

The focus will be on “testing its compounds that have shown broad-spectrum activity against different coronaviruses”.


In other ASX health news today:

Antisense Therapeutics (ASX:ANP) is staying busy in the wake of its positive clinical trial in December for ATL1102 — a drug used in the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

The company has filed new patent applications to protect the use of ATL1102 and reengaged with pharmaceutical companies active in the space. Antisense said it also had approval from the US Food & Drug Administration to carry out a phase IIb clinical trial for ATL1102 using the same 25mg dose as the first trial. Shares bounced off recent lows to 6.6c, after climbing above 9c in December.