Owners of dogs participating in the MPL trial said they have seen an increase in the quality of life of their pets.  

An estimated 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year in the US compared to 1.7 million humans.

Many of the most common cancers in dogs (eg. Lymphoma, Osteosarcoma, Mammary) are recognised as being very similar to human cancers.

As such, dogs are increasingly recognised as excellent models for human disease.

Currently, Pharmaust (ASX:PAA) is studying the efficacy and safety of lead drug Monepantel (MPL) to treat canines with B cell lymphoma in a Phase 2b trial as it transitions to Phase 3.

PharmAust’s commercial target is to develop and partner a product that supersedes the current use of prednisolone alone and/or can reduce or replace the use of chemotherapy in dogs. The use of MPL in canine cancer potentially offers canine cancer patients a much better safety profile with much reduced adverse events typically associated with chemotherapy.

Results to date have shown that dogs treated with MPL have double the life expectancy than the current standard of care (palliative steroid therapy) that typically provides for 6-8 week survival in association with a range of adverse events.

PharmAust recently reported that two dogs lived for 191 days on MPL + prednisolone which is an outstanding result. Furthermore, the dog’s owners have reported increased quality of life of their pets after using the combination treatment – and that’s what it’s all about.

Testimonials from pet owners

Owners of dogs participating in the MPL trial said they have seen firsthand the remarkable extension of life, but more importantly, that their pets maintain quality of life..

Take Ruby, a 12-year-old, black and tan cavalier King Charles spaniel that was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma  in June 2022.

After consultation with the Animal Referral Hospital (ARH) in Brisbane, Ruby’s owner Carrie was given two pages of possible treatments including the chance to participate in the MPL trial.

“I decided to do the trial as I felt that with her age, pancreatitis issues and thyroid issues, chemotherapy would be too much for Ruby,” said Carrie.

“The Monepantel trial would allow us to have a longer time with her, and for her to have a good quality of life, which was very important to me.”

Carrie says that since being admitted to the trial, Ruby has had no health issues and is doing much of what she previously did.

“Each month that we pop in for her check-up, we can’t believe that another month has passed, and we still get to have her in our lives,” added Carrie.

Then there’s Ryley, a 5-year-old border collie x kelpie.

Ryley was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in July 2021 by a local vet.

“We never thought it was anything serious, as she never seemed unwell. She had her usual appetite and energy levels,” said owner Sharon from Sydney.

Sharon felt that chemotherapy was not an option for Ryley as life expectancy is still not much more than one year.

“Our main aim was to hopefully extend her life, but more importantly maintain her quality of life.”

Ryley participated in the MPL trial and so far it has been a  positive experience according to Sharon.

“This trial guaranteed that Ryley would actually be on the medication – not a placebo – and it didn’t involve an excessive amount of invasive investigations and clinic visits.”

Meanwhile, Chica was a black kelpie born on a farming property in WA, and was diagnosed with lymphoma in April 2021.

Owner Emma from Brisbane said that when Chica was diagnosed, she began looking for alternatives to chemotherapy.

“My vet had heard about the Monepantel trial and researched it for me before referring us to the Animal Referral Hospital in Brisbane, which was participating in the trial,” Emma said,

Emma was satisfied with the trial, saying that it was very straightforward, clearly explained and did not require much in terms of input or reporting.

“Just a simple diary and to give the medication (tablet) every second day,” she said.

Despite the efforts, Chica unfortunately had to be put to sleep on October 10.

“She was originally given 2 – 4 weeks to live and went on to have a great quality of life for nearly six months, so we are very grateful,” Emma said.

“The trial gave us an alternative to chemo (which wasn’t an option for us), slowed the progression and gave us more time with Chica.”

Commercial opportunities

There is a potentially large commercial opportunity for MPL in canine cancer.

The drug is already approved for veterinary use for a different indication in food-chain animals, and PharmAust is now looking to repurpose MPL as a safe and effective cancer treatment without the associated side effects of chemotherapy.

Principal Investigator, Dr Kim Agnew stated, “I have talked to a number of large pharma companies about the opportunities for monepantel, and the feeling I get is that these pharma companies support the middle ground that monepantel provides, between that of prednisolone and chemotherapy.”

PharmAust is currently in confidential exploratory discussions with a leading global pharmaceutical company to co-develop and commercialise MPL for the treatment of  veterinary cancers.

Typically, a licensing deal involves an upfront cash payment, plus remuneration of costs spent on  developing the drug which would now be  around $20m—$25m, as well as a 10-12% royalty on all sales of  the drug.

Such a deal would mark a significant commercial  outcome for PharmAust, and see it more than fully funded for all foreseeable future clinical  trials.

Dialogue is continuing, and the company will also seek input from these potential licensing partners in preparation for the Phase 3 registration trial.

“The commercial target is to develop and partner a product that supersedes the current standard of care (prednisolone),” said Dr. Agnew.

“This is to provide a canine lymphoma treatment option that can be administered daily by the owner and enabling excellent quality of life for the dog during treatment.”




This article was developed in collaboration with PharmAust, 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