Dr Mezzanotte said the potential new drug was designed for the severe end of the patient spectrum -or about 2 per to 10 per cent of the world’s 235 million asthma sufferers. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children and kills more than a thousand people every day.
Australian researchers have so far tested CSL311 by transplanting human nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths which typically respond to treatment that is effective for asthma) into immune-deficient mice with promising results. It will now go to a safety trial with a small number of human test subjects in Australia and the UK.
The bulk of CSL’s business is in therapies derived from blood plasma, including immunoglobulins (IGs), which can bind onto and destroy bacteria or viruses and be used to treat a growing list of chronic and rare medical conditions. The company spent $1.2 billion on research and development last year.
CSL said on Wednesday that a trial using an existing IG-based therapy to treat the severe muscle disease dermatomyositis, which can lead to difficulty in walking or even the need for a wheelchair, had also progressed to a stage three trail.
At the same time, a stage three trial of its therapy CSL112, which it hopes can prevent secondary heart attacks by removing cholesterol from the arteries, was also progressing across 45 countries with 17,000 patients being given either the therapy or a placebo.
Around 15 per cent of heart attack patients will have a second cardiovascular event within the next 90 days. Dr Mezzanotte said the company would report on a futility analysis for the heart-attack trial with its full-year results next year.
Demand for plasma-based medical products has seen CSL’s share price surge over the past five years, with the stock up 50 per cent since January at Wednesday’s closing price of $277.83.
Citi analyst John Deakin-Bell said last week that CSL, which is the world’s biggest collector of plasma, was best positioned to benefit from the growing demand for IG products as it continued to invest in plasma collection centres in the US.
“The key players in the plasma industry (except CSL) have not invested enough in collection capacity over the last five years,” and their collection failed to keep up with the growth in demand, Mr Deakin-Bell said in a note to clients.
“As a result, new collection centre openings have failed to keep up with demand. CSL is best positioned to gain from this by taking market share from existing players.”
Business reporter at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.