News the Morrison Government will invest $5 million to sponsor a clinical trial of PainChek’s (ASX:PCK) pain recognition app in aged care centres has lit a rocket under the company’s shares Tuesday morning.

Shortly after the market opened, PCK shares hit 6.5c, a 91 per cent improvement on Monday’s close of 3.4c, adding more than $25 million to the company’s market cap. It was PainChek’s highest point since September last year.

“A national trial of world-first artificial intelligence technology promises to reduce the pain suffered by people living with dementia,” read a statement from minister for senior Australians and aged care, Ken Wyatt.

The deal will see a universal PainChek access licence for the more than 1,000 residential aged care providers in Australia and their 100,000 residents living with dementia for a one year period.

The funding comes amid a wave of promises for the health industry from the Coalition, though an expert told Stockhead not to bet on the funding with polling suggesting the government may change come the election.

PainChek’s technology uses facial recognition to assess pain in patients who are unable to communicate with their carers, aimed at patients with conditions such as dementia who are unable to tell carers when they are in pain.

It is starting to make money, with its quarterly report, also released on Tuesday morning, showing $34,000 in customer receipts for the March quarter and $87,000 in the year to date.

“This investment is set to trigger widespread and long-term use of the PainChek app. From a business perspective we have been focused on how best to facilitate national uptake. We have been making good progress by approaching aged care providers individually but this takes the implementation to a whole new level in double-quick time,” Philip Daffas, company CEO, said.

“This is Australian innovation to help some of our most vulnerable Australians,” Wyatt added.

“Accurately identifying the pain felt by people who have communication challenges can be difficult and with more than 50 per cent of residents in aged care homes living with dementia, there is a widespread risk of under-treated pain.”

In other ASX health news Tuesday morning

Mental health tech company Medibio (ASX:MEB) slams it in reverse. Medibio revealed a change in strategy to investors Tuesday morning, pushing shares down 6 per cent to 1.6c. It has withdrawn a submission it made to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July last year, saying it was “flawed in many ways”. It has engaged US corporate law experts DuVal & Associates to rejig its regulatory strategy. Medbio has $2.9 million in the bank.


Immutep (ASX:IMM) releases an update on its development pipeline. The cancer and autoimmune disease drug developer told investors that four clinical trials involving its lead candidate eftilagimod alpha were progressing well, with data from a Phase II study being performed in conjunction with pharma giant Merck expected to be read out by the middle of the year. Shares rose ever so slightly to 2.9c.


AdAlta (ASX:1AD) manufacturing like a champion… but it remains a long way off getting its drug into human trials. It told investors manufacturing development results had exceeded expectations, with cell-line yield for the company’s lead fibrosis candidate AD-214 above previously reported expression levels, at 3 grams per litre (3g/L) – up from the 1g/L reported in October 2018. The pre-revenue biotech hopes to complete a primate toxicology pre-clinical study by the end of the year.