Clinical-stage biotechnology company PharmAust (ASX:PAA) has executed a research services agreement with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne to investigate the effects of monepantel (MPL) on human T-lymphotrophic virus-1 (HTLV-1) infections in vitro.
HTLV-1, like HIV the causative agent for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is a cancer-inducing virus that targets the immune system. The virus can cause a type of cancer called adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATL) and is transmitted primarily through infected bodily fluids including blood and breast milk.
Approximately 10-20 million people worldwide are infected with HTLV-1. Several central Australian indigenous populations have infection rates of over 60 per cent. Infection is associated with pulmonary disease, inflammatory disorders and, in some cases, a rapidly progressive leukaemia/lymphoma.
PharmAust’s said the study of HTLV-1 is of particular significance due to the readily available nature of highly and particularly relevant in vitro and in vivo preclinical virus infection models.
The HTLV-1 work will be conducted at WEHI by a group led by Professor Marc Pellegrini. Work will commence upon cell lines in culture. Preliminary data are anticipated in December 2021.
PharmAust’s chief scientific officer Dr Richard Mollard said, “PharmAust is pleased to have the opportunity to work again with Professor Marc Pellegrini’s group at the WEHI. While PharmAust continues MPL manufacture and tablet production for clinical trials, this work provides an excellent opportunity to build our MPL antiviral knowledge base. While our COVID-19 work is ongoing, having a more extensive preclinical data package describing MPL’s antiviral activity in more general terms would strengthen PharmAust’s position going into any antiviral clinical trial, including for COVID-19.”