Biotech company Invex Therapeutics (ASX:IXC) joined the ASX boards in July, seeking public capital to help develop its treatment for intracranial pressure (ICP – pressure on the brain caused by fluid buildup).

As it turns out, the company’s research has also caught the attention of NASA. Specifically, how it pertains to the preparation of astronauts for long haul multi-month space voyages.

Getting to Mars, for example, takes around nine months. And spending that much time in a pressurised cabin environment could take an unexpectedly harsh toll on the body.

Invex’s chief scientific officer, Professor Alexandra Sinclair, met with representatives of the space agency in June at the University of Birmingham, to discuss how its Exenatide treatment might be suitable for space travel.

At the core of Invex’s research is the potential for existing kidney treatments to be repurposed for addressing the symptoms caused by ICP, which included severe headaches and loss of vision.

That’s helped to speed up the regulatory approval process for testing on animals, and the company is now undertaking clinical trials to test its effectiveness on humans.

Having witnessed the debilitating effects of ICP in other patients, Sinclair discovered the potential for the repurposed Exenatide treatment as part of her efforts to find an improved solution.

In doing so, she found that the kidney had some similarities to the brain when it comes to processing fluids.

According to a report from the University of Birmingham, the kidney “modulates fluid by a mechanism similar to the choroid plexus — a group of cells responsible for secreting cerebrospinal fluid”. But the main difference is that it does so in reverse.

So Twiggy Forrest-backed IVX is conducting further research on its repurposed treatment. The product testing draws on research from a number of fields, including clinical neurology.

And in addition to patients with ICP, the treatment may have a use-case in helping astronauts explore the solar system.

Invex listed on the ASX in July at 40c, and immediately shot up above $1 before cooling off. The company has traded in the 60c range since August, and phase II trials to test the treatment’s effectiveness on human patients are ongoing.

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