• ASX health stocks fall 1.5% in the past five days, broader markets fall on global banking concerns
  • Neuren Pharmaceuticals has soared 60% after FDA approves its drug for Rett’s syndrome 
  • Antisense starts chronic monkey toxicology study of ATL1102 for Duchenne muscular dystrophy  

Healthcare and life sciences expert Scott Power, who has been a senior analyst with Morgans Financial for 26 years, explains what the movers and shakers have been doing in health and gives his ASX Powerplays.

Feeling tired? Did you get enough sleep last night? Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark have found for the first time the effect of poor sleep on the longevity of a person’s cardiovascular health.

The researchers analysed sleeping experiences and cardiovascular medical histories of 308,683 middle-aged adults and found sleep disorders are associated with a significant reduction in years of heart health in a person.

The study in BMC Medicine found breathing-related sleep disorders were associated with a 7.32-year reduction in heart-healthy years for women and 6.73 years for men.

People who slept poorly, according to the study’s definition, saw an an average two-year reduction in cardiac health.

“These results could lay the cornerstone for future research on early prevention against poor sleep and improving CVD (cardiovascular disease)-free life expectancy among poor sleepers,”the study said.

“Especially, we hope that the current outcomes can serve as a reference for policymakers and professionals to develop national sleep guidelines.”


To markets….

And there’s been no time to sleep for jittery markets this week which continue to be volatile, mostly this time on the back of fears about a global banking crisis.

However, ASX health stocks were holding up pretty well at 12pm (AEST) on Friday with the S&P/ASX 200 healthcare index (ASX:XHJ) down 1.5% for the past five days, while the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) fell 4.9% for the same period.

The week got off to a good start for ASX health stocks with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving Neuren Pharmaceutical’s (ASX:NEU) compound trofinetide, the first drug for the treatment of the rare neurological disorder Rett’s Syndrome.

Power said the drug is now expected to sell for $375k per year per patient, much higher than analysts’ forecasts.

“We didn’t really know what the selling price of the drug would be and what came out with the presentation from the company is that the expectation is the price of the drug is much higher than a lot of the analysts in Australia and overseas were thinking,” he said.

“A lot of the analysts were around the $150k mark so that’s a big step up and you’re seeing a lot of the analysts upgrading their price targets on NEU.

“What is to come is deciding some rest of the world deal, with Acadia just having the rights in North America, and Neuren has rights now to negotiate the rest of the world.”

The NEU share price has soared 60% in the past five days and ~210% in the past year.


The NEU share price today:


Telix gets expanded approval for Illuccix

Telix Pharma (ASX:TLX) announced the US FDA has approved a supplementary New Drug Application  for Illuccix, a kit for the preparation of gallium Ga 68 gozetotide injection.

The FDA this time gave approval for use of Illuccix on patients with metastatic prostate cancer, for whom lutetium-177 (177Lu) PSMA-directed therapy is indicated.

To qualify for radioligand therapy, patients must be imaged with an approved gallium-based PSMA-PET agent.

This expansion means Illuccix can now be used in the US to identify and select patients who are candidates for the only FDA-approved prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-directed radioligand therapy (Pluvicto).

It is estimated that 32,000 patients per year in the US may be considered for PSMA-directed radioligand therapy.

“It’s good news for them,” Power said.


Antisense starts monkey toxicology study

Antisense (ASX:ANP)  has announced the start of a nine-month chronic monkey toxicology study of ATL1102. 

The study aims to support advancement of the ATL1102 program in the US for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) or any other clinical application of ATL1102.

Dosing for all animals will be completed in November with outcomes expected to be reported in H1 CY24. 

Power said the toxicology study is the key to unlock therapeutic use of ATL1102 in the US.  Successful completion is expected to be the final step required by the FDA to allow dosing of ATL1102 for more than six months in the US and enable ANP to apply for expedited program status with the FDA, including fast track or potential breakthrough therapy designation.

“This is an important step in terms of what will be required by the regulators for ultimate approval,” Power said.


The TLX & ANP share price today:


ScoPo’s Powerplay

Power’s pick of the week is Proteomics International Laboratories (ASX:PIQ), which has a pending deal with Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) to use their PromarkerD test for diabetic kidney disease in their US labs.

However, PIQ has announced its intention to resubmit an application for the test to be included in the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) following a decision by the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) to not support public funding at this time.

Power said it is not uncommon for initial applications to be rejected and has been hearing from numerous sources that public funding has become significantly tighter in recent times, particularly for requests for new tests.

He said this is unrelated to its Therapeutic Goods Administration TGA approval application (formal test approval for use in Australian market) which continues to progress.

“This is a global diagnostic product and Proteomics has a deal pending with Sonic,” he said.

“Australia is quite small in the scheme of things.”

The PIQ share price has fallen 26% in the past five days, which Power said may present a buying opportunity.

“The share price has slipped back and we thought it was a fairly good entry point last week when it was around $1 and now it’s back at around 70 cents so we can happily put that in the basket on the expectation of a deal with Sonic seeing that share price jump higher,” Power said.


The PIQ share price today:

The views, information, or opinions expressed in the interviews in this article are solely those of the interviewees and do not represent the views of Stockhead. Stockhead does not provide, endorse or otherwise assume responsibility for any financial product advice contained in this article.