Mesoblast and the ASX’s other big biotechs have intrigued investors this year; here’s what’s in store next
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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The ASX’s big biotechs, particular Mesoblast (ASX:MSB), have had intriguing years in 2021, but there could be more to look forward to in 2022.
After 2020 disrupted the sector, things have been gradually returning to normal. Many (but not all) have seen substantial share price gains after successes or progress made in clinical trials.
Being big biotechs, many are more advanced than their small cap peers on the ASX, having drugs or other treatments ar later stage clinical trial – or in a handful of cases, even on the market.
But just where are all these companies at and what may lie ahead?
Mesoblast has attracted attention from ASX investors in recent weeks off the back of its success with its rexlemestrocel-L drug. Yesterday it reported positive results from its Phase 3 trial in chronic heart failure patients.
Mesoblast had solid 2020 off the back of ASX shareholder hype over a clinical trial testing the use of another one of its stem-cell infusions – remestemcel-L – on severely ailing US COVID-19 patients.
But it crashed at the end of the year after a setback to that trial and it has not recovered.
Yet the company has not given up on remestemcel-L, investing US$9.7 million into the platform in the September quarter. And the FDA has advised that if an additional study in COVID-19 showed positive outcomes, it might be enough to support an emergency use authorisation (EUA).
It is also easy for ASX investors forget that Mesoblast has a product already on the market – its TEMCELL, which targets acute graft versus host disease (aGVHD).
TEMCELL is available in Japan and Mesoblast received US$2.4 million in royalties during the September quarter.
CSL has attracted the most attention from winning the contract to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia – a deal which will soon be discontinued. It also participated in the clinical trial of a vaccine by the University of Queensland’s vaccine and it also makes flu vaccines.
But its traditional speciality has been in blood plasma products and it managed to grow its revenue and profits in FY21.
The company is tipping a net profit after tax between $2.15 billion and $2.25 billion in FY22 and believes plasma demand will remain strong.
Imugene targets cancer and is headed by one of the most well known figures in the ASX biotech space – Paul Hopper.
It has three novel technology platforms which deliver immunotherapy –
It has several clinical trials underway. The most advanced, in the sense of closest to market, is HER-2 which is in a Phase II trial against first line gastric cancer.
However it has two other programs which it hopes to get FDA Investigational New Drug clearance for in the next 12-24 months.
Telix is also in the cancer space – targeting brain, kidney and prostate cancer – and is one of the few companies involved in radiation therapy.
The most recent update out of the company came a fortnight ago when the TGA approved Illuccix – its lead prostate cancer imaging product.
It has a number of other clinical studies. One of the more advanced is its Phase III study into its kidney cancer drug Zircon for which it has recruited 70% of patients into the study.
Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals targets skin disorders with its SCENESSE drug, with one being anti-erthropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) which causes extreme reactions to light exposure.
If Mesoblast is a poster child of an ASX stock which has made progress quickly, Clinuvel is the opposite. FDA approval for SCENESSE came in October 2019 – 32 years after the drug was first developed and 18 years after Clinuvel entered the ASX.
Since then, company has begun to roll it out in the USA but has also been running clinical trials against other skin conditions.
This company is a newcomer to the ASX having only listed in September and is dual-listed on the ASX and NZX.
It is in the diagnostics space, targeting bladder cancer.
In FY21 it achieved a 76% increase in operating revenue and made significant traction in the US as it enabled the rise of telemedicine.
In FY22, it aims to launch a fourth product into the US – a market it says is worth US$3.5 billion.