PharmAust (ASX:PAA) shares surged this morning on news a clinical trial of its drug that fights cancer in dogs has so far been a success.

The company released interim results showing the majority of dogs have responded well to the treatment of Monepantel.

Monepantel fights cancer by inhibiting a signalling pathway in the cell cycle, specifically the mTOR pathway. The drug already has the green light in some jurisdictions but not specifically for cancer.

The drug successfully reduced the size of a tumour in one dog by over 60 per cent and stabilised the disease in another four dogs.

Shares rose 40 per cent at market open.


What now?

The study’s principal investigator, Dr Claire Cannon, said this morning that these results warranted phase three trials.

“The phase two trial results suggest that Monepantel, perhaps in combination with standard of care lymphoma therapy, may represent a future prospect for treatment of dogs with this disease,” she said.

PharmAust’s chief scientific officer Richard Mollard said the outcome was a “terrific and unexpected outcome”.

The company has paused the trial while an interim report is finalised. It also noted one unexpected outcome was that some dogs lost their appetite (despite attempts to make the drug tastier) and consequently lost weight.

This means future trials may have a lower target dose, according to PharmAust.

Last month the company also said it was looking to test the drug against COVID-19.

“How it [Monepantel] works in cancer may also be of benefit to certain viral diseases like COVID-19,” Dr Molloy told Stockhead.


In other ASX health news today:

Just over a year since nerve regenerator Orthocell (ASX:OCC) showed its CelGro treatment worked, it has filed for FDA 510(k) clearance. Obtaining this means the US Food and Drug Administration is satisfied that the medical device is safe and effective.

Once it has approval, Orthocell hopes to help with dental implants and soft tissue regeneration. Boss Paul Anderson said his company was in a strong position to gain approval and was actively progressing a US launch strategy.