Argenica Therapeutics (ASX: AGN) has topped up its cash reserves with a $5.5 million placement to advance development of its lead drug ARG-007 for other applications beyond stroke.
The move follows a number of successful pre-clinical studies evaluating ARG-007 in hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and global cerebral ischaemia.
According to Argenica, the placement attracted “significant interest” from a number of new and existing family offices, institutions and high net worth investors.
Argenica managing director Dr Liz Dallimore said the company was “delighted” to secure the support of new institutional and sophisticated investors, along with the ongoing support from existing shareholders.
Dr Dallimore said ARG-007 has shown “very promising” neuroprotective effects on brain cells following different types of brain injury in animal models.
“Having additional funds to accelerate our research program across HIE, TBI and global ischaemia will allow the company to establish a comprehensive pre-clinical data set for these indications.”
“By advancing this pre-clinical research for these indications now, we will have the required data to commence phase 2 trials more quickly for these indications following successful completion of the upcoming phase 1 trial.”
HIE occurs when oxygen and blood stop flowing to the brain and while it can occur in adults, the condition is mostly a result of an oxygen-depriving event during birth.
With HIE one of the most serious birth complications in full-term infants, the ability to reduce brain tissue death could mean the difference of walking, talking and thinking normally compared to being disabled for life.
Pre-clinical studies of ARG-007 in an animal model of HIE show it has neuroprotective effects.
TBI and global cerebral ischaemia
TBI is a disruption to the brain’s normal function by a blow, bump or jolt to the head. While severe cases can result in death, someone with TBI can have impaired brain function for life, with a host of neurological and physical symptoms.
In pre-clinical studies, ARG-007 reduced the neuronal injury after severe TBI.
Global cerebral ischaemia can occur after cardiac arrest or during cardiac surgery.
During pre-clinical work, ARG-007 showed evidence of neuroprotective potential in treating this complication.
Phase 1 trial
A phase 1 trial of ARG-007 in humans is due to begin “shortly” once Argenica secures ethics approval.
The trial will be undertaken at the Linear Clinical Research facility in Perth, Western Australia and will provide Argenica with data on the drug’s safety and tolerability.
This study is expected to take about six months to complete and will enrol about 32 people.
Results will feed into a phase 2 study that will administer ARG-007 to stroke patients.