Clinical stage oncology company Prescient Therapeutics (ASX: PTX) has revealed two of its assets have been selected as group one priority candidates for a COVID-19 antiviral testing program in Melbourne, Victoria.
This is unexpected news to come from a company that is focused on developing targeted and cellular therapies to treat cancers.
Prescient emerged from a trading halt on Tuesday to announce it had signed a research agreement with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunology, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
The Doherty Institute has assessed two of Prescient’s existing assets as group one priority candidates for the research program, which will conduct testing on SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that leads to the COVID-19 infection) antiviral drugs.
Group one candidates are defined by the testing program guidelines as candidates having the “highest or strong likelihood of antiviral efficacy – compounds in this grouping will be eligible for tier one laboratory testing”.
“While we remain totally focused on advancing our promising anti-cancer clinical pipeline, we are delighted that two of our assets have been selected for this important national effort by some of the world’s leading medical researchers to help address this urgent global health emergency,” Prescient chief executive officer Steven Yatomi-Clarke said.
Prescient said its assets were assessed by an independent scientific review panel and chosen by the Doherty Institute based on available existing data and additional preclinical data supporting their rationale for use as antiviral therapies.
The testing program is a two-step process involving in vitro testing at the Doherty Institute and potentially in vivo tests in a small animal model. Eligibility for the second stage will depend on positive results in the first stage.
Prescient is contributing $70,000 for the testing of both assets in the first stage. Initial results are anticipated in September and October.
The company has filed new patent applications for both assets for their use as anti-SARS-CoV-2 agents but has not revealed any further details that would identify the assets.
All additional intellectual property created during the Doherty Institute screening process will be owned by Prescient, it reported.
The Doherty Institute
The Doherty Institute is dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of a wide variety of infectious diseases.
It gained international prominence at the start of the year in the fight against COVID-19, becoming the first centre outside of China to grow the SARS-CoV-2 strain in cell culture and share with laboratories around the world.