PharmAust demonstrates MPL can destroy leukaemia virus in pre-clinical research

PharmAust ASX PAA monepantel MPL destroy leukaemia virus pre-clinical research anti viral
PharmAust will further investigate the ability of MPL to kill the human T-cell leukaemia virus-1 to determine its clinical significance.

Biotech PharmAust (ASX: PAA) has demonstrated its lead drug monepantel (MPL) can kill the leukaemia virus, while also having an anti-cancer effect, during pre-clinical research.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is investigating the antiviral effects of MPL on the human T-cell leukaemia virus-1 (HTLV-1) in vitro for PharmAust.

During the research, the institute demonstrated that MPL and monepantel sulfone (MPLS) can destroy HTLV-1 transformed leukaemia cell lines and inhibit its protein production.

“These early results provide evidence that MPL and MPLS may inhibit the HTLV-1 virus according to two different mechanisms,” PharmAust chief scientific officer Dr Richard Mollard explained.

“Firstly, the anti-cancer effects of MPL and MPLS are potentially evident in killing cells transformed by the HTLV-1 virus.”

“Secondly, an antiviral effect is potentially evident whereby MPL and MPLS may directly interfere with viral protein production, independent of the effects on the survival of transformed cells.”

Dr Mollard said PharmAust would follow up on these results to “precisely determine” how HTLV-1 protein production is inhibited and the clinical relevance of the data.

Human T-cell leukaemia virus-1

HTLV-1 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 primarily transmitted through infected bodily fluids, including blood and breast milk.

It is estimated between 10 million and 20 million people have HTLV-1 worldwide, with a high incidence in Japan and within several central Australian indigenous populations.

Infection with HTLV-1 is also associated with pulmonary disease, inflammatory disorders and, in some cases, a rapidly progressive leukaemia or lymphoma.

Around 10% of infected patients have serious morbidities and mortality.

Antiviral activity

PharmAust is also investigating the antiviral activity of MPL and MPLS in patients infected with SARS-CoV2 – the causative agent of COVID-19.

Following promising pre-clinical research, PharmAust has engaged UK-based Ergomed Clinical Research to begin a clinical trial.

The trial will span four countries and have initial end points of identifying a recommended dose for further studies, assessing adverse events, pharmacokinetics, improved symptoms, time to progression of COVID-19 symptoms, and any reductions in SARS-CoV2 viraemia.

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