Preliminary results show PharmAust’s monepantel drug is effective against leukaemia virus HTLV-1
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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The WEHI study demonstrated that PharmAust’s lead drug monepantel can kill the HTLV-1 virus and inhibit its protein production.
Clinical stage biotech PharmAust (ASX:PAA) has just announced preliminary results from its investigation into the antiviral effects of monepantel (MPL) on human T-cell Leukaemia Virus -1 (or HTLV-1).
The in-vitro study, done in collaboration with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), demonstrated that MPL and MPLS (metabolite monepantel sulfone) can kill HTLV-1-transformed leukaemia cell lines and inhibit its protein production.
What this means is that MPL has the ability to interfere with the complex HTLV-1 lifecycle, killing the virus more effectively than that of a control non-transformed cell line.
PharmAust believes these results warrant further investigation to better understand the mechanism and ability of MPL in slowing down disease progression.
“These early results provide evidence that MPL and MPLS may inhibit the HTLV-1 virus according to two different mechanisms,” explained PharmAust’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Richard Mollard.
“Firstly, the anti-cancer effects of MPL and MPLS are potentially evident in killing cells transformed by the HTLV-1 virus.
“Secondly, an antiviral effect is potentially evident whereby MPL and MPLS may directly interfere with viral protein production, independent of effects on the survival of transformed cells.”
Mollard said that PharmAust will follow up on these results to determine precisely how HTLV-1 protein production is inhibited, and to understand the clinical relevance of the data.
According to statistics, approximately 10-20 million people worldwide are infected with HTLV-1, with a particularly high recorded incidence in Japan.
Several indigenous populations in central Australia also have infection rates of over 60%, and around 10% of patients suffer serious morbidities and death as a result of HTLV-1 infection.
Similar to the HIV virus, which is the cause of AIDS, HTLV-1 attacks the immune system and can cause a type of cancer called adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATL).
The HTLV-1 virus is primarily transmitted through infected bodily fluids, including blood and breast milk.
According to data, approximately 10-20 million people worldwide are infected with HTLV-1, with a particularly high recorded incidence in Japan.
Infection is associated with pulmonary disease, inflammatory disorders and, in some cases, a rapidly progressive leukaemia/lymphoma.
Around 10% of patients suffer serious morbidities and death as a result of HTLV-1 infection.
Infection with HTLV-1 subtype C is endemic among Aboriginal people in central Australia. Several indigenous populations in central Australia have infection rates of over 60%.
No cure or treatment exists for HTLV-1.
The Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) is investing in Indigenous-led research to tackle health issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It will provide $160 million over 11 years from FY 2018–19 to FY 2028–29.
PharmAust’s strategy to introduce MPL as a broad spectrum antiviral therapy aligns with the direction preferred by Nobel Prize laureate Peter Doherty, who suggested that broad-spectrum antivirals are the world’s future in this space.
Against that backdrop, the latest WEHI study has served to support PharmAust’s broader program of investigating the antiviral effect of MPL in various pathogens, which already includes SARS-CoV-2.
Earlier this week, PharmAust broke new ground on its planned clinical trial of MPL on SARS-CoV-2, after engaging the services of UK-based Ergomed to carry out the trials.
The company expects to treat the first patient cohort for the trial in May, after MPL tablet stability data has been made available.
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.