Stroke has long been recognised as being among Australia’s most costly disease groups. 

It occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain either suddenly becomes blocked or ruptures and begins to bleed which can result in part of the brain dying, leading to impairment that can affect a range of activities such as speaking, thinking, movement and communication, if not death.

In 2020, the economic cost of strokes on the Australian economy exceeded $6.2 billion according to Deloitte, and a further $26 billion in lost wellbeing (short and long-term disability) and premature mortality in that financial year alone. 

Obviously that data is a few years old, but strokes are predicted to become more prevalent by 2050 with an estimated 50,600 Australians expected have a stroke for the first time compared to 27,428 in 2020.

But the financial impact extends even further, with strokes a leading cause of disability in Australia.

In 2020 there were an estimated 445,087 survivors of stroke living in the community, and by 2050 that could double to 819,900. 

A 2022 study crunched how much exactly treatment would cost per stroke patient. Short-term it’s around $149,180, with the price to reach $249,780 per stroke patient in the long-term.

We’re no accountants but by 2050 the long-term costs of stroke on the economy could be a lot.

Luckily, stroke can be prevented and can be treated – if patients get medical help quickly – because the longer treatment is delayed, the more damage the stroke can cause.

Deloitte says by investing in prevention, treatment and care not only can we improve patient outcomes, but it also means savings up to $2.6 billion in economic and wellbeing costs over a five-year period.

It’s a large addressable market, so, let’s take a look at the ASX stocks targeting stroke treatment – either drug or technology based.


Who are the ASX stroke stocks?


Argenica Therapeutics (ASX:AGN)

The company is focused on developing novel therapeutics to reduce brain tissue death after stroke and other types of brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases to improve patient outcomes.

Lead drug ARG-007 has been successfully demonstrated to improve outcomes in pre-clinical stroke models, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE).

A Phase 1 clinical trial was recently completed in healthy human volunteers to assess the safety and tolerability of a single dose, and the company got positive feedback from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that its Phase 2 trial protocol was acceptable to assess preliminary efficacy (proof-of-concept) of ARG-007.

For the Phase 2 trial, only patients with a diagnosed large vessel occlusion (LVO) stroke that are eligible for endovascular thrombectomy (mechanical removal of a clot in the brain) will be eligible to be enrolled.

LVO strokes account for close to 40% of all acute ischaemic strokes, however, are responsible for 60% of post-stroke dependency and 90% of mortalities after stroke, and therefore are considered the most devastating type of stroke.

The Phase 2 trial is planned with patient dosing scheduled for Q1 CY24, and a Phase 3 trial is planned in the US in future.


Emvision Medical Devices (ASX:EMV)

The company has developed a potentially cost effective, portable, medical imaging device using electromagnetic microwave imaging for diagnosis and monitoring of stroke and other medical applications, which could potentially enable earlier diagnosis.

In the June quarter, EMV was awarded $5 million in non-dilutive funding under the Federal Government’s MMI Medical Products Translation stream to establish commercial production of the first-generation brain scanner device.

And the company kicked off a multi-centre trial for the device late last year, with the sites selected major stroke centres that treat significant volumes of stroke patients each year, including Liverpool Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Princess Alexandra Hospital.

The company also recently reached a patient enrolment milestone under its project agreement with the Australian Stroke Alliance (ASA) – which is funded by the Commonwealth of Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) – triggering a further $600,000 non-dilutive milestone payment.

Development of the second-generation device is progressing, with an advanced prototype for further bench testing and health human volunteer testing expected in the near-term. 


Nyrada (ASX:NYR)  

Nyrada specialises in the discovery and development of small molecule drugs to address unmet medical needs in cardiovascular disease and stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

It switched its lead brain injury drug candidate from NYR-BI02 to NYR-BI03 in June after demonstrating a superior potency and safety profile. 

Every year there are 4.1 million TBIs in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Japan – and there is no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug available.

The plan is to test NYR-BI03 in the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) efficacy study, and separately in a Contract Research Organisation (CRO) stroke model study in H2 CY23.

“Manufacture of NYR-BI03 is progressing well to support the commencement of preclinical Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) studies later this year,” CEO James Bonnar said in the June quarterly.


Micro-X (ASX:MX1)  

MX1 produces a range of portable x-ray systems, most commonly used in healthcare applications such as aged care homes and military or humanitarian field hospitals.

They also make a portable bomb detection camera, which is cool… but back to the medical stuff, the company says the brain CT market is worth a whopping $5bn.

MX1 says its on track for the first human clinical trials of its Brain CT scanner at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the first quarter of 2024, with the objective to confirm proof-of-concept for imaging of stroke patients.


And finally, worth a mention is CardieX (ASX:CDX), developing the CONNEQT Pulse wearable that provides measurements of both brachial blood pressure (the pressure at your arm), and central blood pressure (the pressure at your heart/aorta).

It’s potentially relevant because research shows that central aortic pressures (the pressure in the aorta/heart) can be considered as having independent and higher predictive value for the consequences of hypertension such as heart disease, stroke, vascular disease and kidney failure relative to traditional brachial blood pressure.

The company nabbed DFA 510(k) clearance for the device earlier this year.


AGN, EMV, NYR, MX1 and CDX share prices today:


At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Argenica Therapeutics is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.