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Australian biotech companies becoming global players

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Australia has ranked in the top five globally for biotechnology three years running, outperforming nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany, according to Scientific American Worldview. The Australian medical-biotechnology sector has benefited from a multibillion-dollar windfall of government funding, as well as from substantial tax breaks for companies investing in research and development.

Some of the exciting companies to watch are

Antisense Therapeutics Limited (ASX: ANP) and (FRA: AWY)

Antisense Therapeutics (ANP) is an Australian publicly-listed biotechnology company, developing and commercializing antisense pharmaceuticals for large unmet markets in rare diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

The products are in-licensed from Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IONS), an established leader in antisense drug development.

Early in 2020 ANP announced that its immunomodulatory therapy, ATL1102 for DMD had met the required safety standards and achieved "strong initial efficacy" as part of its Phase 2 clinical trial. The Phase 2 trial involved administering the drug once a week via subcutaneous injections for 24 weeks in 9 non-ambulatory DMD patients.

The study showed that administering ATL1102 resulted in "consistent improvements or stabilisation across the different measures of motor function and strength. This propels the company forward to commence Phase IIb trials in Europe in 2021.

The global market for DMD treatment is around EUR 3.5 billion.

The company is receiving significant broker research attention also.

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Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU)

IMU is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing a range of new treatments that seek to activate the immune system of cancer patients to identify and eradicate tumours.

The unique platform of technology seeks to harness and promote the body’s immune system against cancerous tumours. Their current pipeline includes

oncolytic viruses and B-cell immunotherapies aimed at treating a variety of cancers in combination with standard of care drugs and immunotherapies.

IMU is supported by a leading team of international cancer experts with extensive experience in developing new cancer therapies.

Oncolytic viruses are naturally occurring, or genetically modified viruses that infect, replicate in and eventually kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. IMU's oncolytic virus known as CF33 is a chimeric vaccinia derived through a recombination of favourable genetic sequences from multiple pox virus strains to generate a new, safer and more potent virus.

The company has significant pre-clinical data showing CF33 is selectively tumor targeting, self-amplifying, minimal side effects, effective for both primary and metastic tumours as well as recurrent tumours, synergistic with standard of care therapies and emerging novel therapies, stimulates immune system to recognize the tumours.

Analysts research is also indicating this company has strong growth potential

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Immutep Limited (ASX: IMM) and (FRA: YP1B)

Immutep (IMM) is leading the development of immunotherapy for cancer and autoimmune diseases. The company's objective is to harness and strengthen the power of the body’s own immune systems through therapeutic intervention for the benefit of patients’ health. This is how immunotherapy fights cancer and autoimmune disease.

IMM are global leaders in the understanding and development of therapeutics that modulate Lymphocyte Activation Gene-3 or "LAG-3” which is a cell surface molecule which plays a vital role in regulating T cells. LAG-3 was discovered by our Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Frederic Triebel, putting Immutep at the forefront of immunotherapy drugs for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

IMM has recently unveiled results from two clinical studies into its lead drug - eftilagimod alpha - noting "improved results" and "encouraging early anti-tumour activity signals of a variety of cancer indications not typically sensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy. IMM's INSIGHT-004 Phase I clinical trial was conducted in Frankfurt, Germany in collaboration with Merck and Pfizer.


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