IPO Watch: This biotech might one day have a cure for Alzheimer’s
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A new biotech is looking to make its mark on the ASX with another attempt at fixing the world’s most common neurodegenerative diseases.
NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals this week launched a $6 million initial public offering to develop a treatment and diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s.
NeuroScientific is a very early stage biotech with a licence agreement to develop and commercialise a peptide-based Alzheimer’s drug called EmtinB.
Chairman Brian Leedman says peptides — short chains of amino acid monomers which, when lengthened, become proteins — have the potential to stop the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis and actually regenerate nerve cells.
Current Alzheimer’s research is largely focused on two areas: the build-up of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins, which is a main cause of the disease.
Only four Alzheimer’s drugs are on the market and all only help with cognition. None permanently stop progression or reverse the effects of the disease — issues that are the holy grail for current research.
The $6 million IPO will pay for the company to develop EmtinB as a treatment and as a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s, and ready the former for Phase I human clinical studies. They also want to look at whether it works for other diseases too.
NeuroScientific plans to put EmtinB through safety and toxicology studies in order to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA and prepare for Phase I human clinical trials.
The drug IP was originally developed by scientists at the University of Copenhagen before being acquired by the University of Tasmania.
Early stage biotechs are notoriously risky.
The number of drugs that start Phase 1 clinical trials — the first human trials that take place after companies have spent years working out if a compound can even work as a drug and is safe — and make it to market is 13.8 per cent.
The number that make it from earlier stages through the final clinical trials is closer to 1 per cent of all drugs.
A more immediate risk to the whole project is government tampering with a key source of revenue, R&D tax refunds.
The company notes that this at risk, as seen by the changes in the federal Budget this week.
While biotechs are safe for now, with clinical trials safe from any caps on R&D refunds, the government has capped refunds at $4 million dollars and added various conditions.
AusBiotech chief Glenn Cross told Stockhead after the 218 Budget was unveiled that since the R&D taxation incentive program began, Australia had experienced 5 per cent annual growth in clinical trials.