PharmAust publishes encouraging trial results, and picks new CEO

Dr Michael Thurn, PhD has been appointed as CEO effective 1 September 2023.

ASX-listed (‘PAA’) Perth biotech company PharmAust has a new leader at the helm, coming to the role with decades of experience behind him and a trail of high-profile positions at biotech companies. Dr Michael Thurn became CEO of the clinical-stage biotech company, effective 1 September.

Meanwhile, the company has recently released some encouraging trial results in relation to suppressing motor neurone disease progression. Specifically, the urinary biomarker data of its lead drug candidate MPL in Motor Neurone Disease/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MND/ALS).

Research2 has demonstrated that people with MND/ALS show significantly higher levels of p75ECD in their urine (p < 0.0001).

Significantly reduced p75ECD levels were seen in Cohort 1 participants in PharmAust’s Phase 1/2 MND trial. This cohort was on the lowest dosage.

p75ECD and creatinine were measured from all six Cohort 1 participants. p75ECD levels were significantly reduced across the cohort (Mixed Effects analysis, p < 0.05, see diagram below), while creatinine levels appeared overall relatively unchanged (Paired tTest, p > 0.05). p75ECD/ creatinine ratios were reduced for three of six subjects, unchanged for two and increased for one subject.

Importantly, it does not provide evidence of overall disease progression and provide a basis for proceeding to a Phase 2 clinical trial. PharmAust will continue with MPL dose escalation for Cohorts 3 and 4 to determine the optimum dose for Phase 2.

p75ECD levels and p75ECD /creatinine levels in the urine of MND trial subjects

We are delighted with the results. MND is a disease characterised by progressive, debilitating paralysis due to the loss of motor neurons in the cerebral cortex, brain stem and spinal cord and is fatal. Therapeutic options are limited to Riluzole, which offers a modest 3-6 month survival extension. Baseline urinary p75ECD provides prognostic information and is the only biological fluid–based biomarker of disease progression.

PharmAust Executive Chairman, Dr Roger Aston

The Chair was also delighted to appoint the new CEO.

“I am thrilled that this robust and competitive process has culminated in identifying a biotechnology leader of Michael’s calibre,” said Roger Aston.

“As we look to the future the Board is very confident Michael will continue to build momentum on the positive interim results from the ongoing Phase 1 Motor Neurone Disease study to increase market awareness and create significant value for our shareholders. We look forward to working with Michael.”

“This is an incredible opportunity to join PharmAust at this significant point in the Company’s journey,” said incoming CEO Dr Michael Thurn.

“We have an exciting and maturing animal health and human pipeline, an excellent Board and world-class clinical advisors and collaborators to draw knowledge. I look forward to working with the Board and the team to advance PharmAust’s product pipeline.”