NEURODISCOVERY: CAREFULLY STRUCTURED WITH PROFITABLE ARM, FOCUSSED ON NEUROPATHIC PAIN RELIEF
By Jenny Prabhu and Gerald Stanley
Biotechs, like explorers of metals and energy, run on news of the success or failure of their flagship drugs and the strength of their collaborations and are largely impervious to moves in the broad market - often becoming a focus of speculative investor interest at times when there is uncertainty on the direction of the other major sectors.
NeuroDiscovery which listed on August 15, has attractive credentials for an early stage biotech. NeuroDiscovery’s only business at this stage is NeuroSolutions, based in the University of Warwick, UK. NeuroSolutions has been self funding since inception in 2001. The business has two distinct arms - a profitable international service business (revenue of $A1.2 mil and net profit of A$350,000 to year end March 2005) and an R&D arm financed via its profitable service arm which has a potential neuropathic pain relief lead compound that works in oral form rather than needing to be injected.
Subject to discussions with regulators the company’s planned 2005 Phase 1 trial for its lead compound may proceed straight into a Phase II trial since the compound was previously shown to be non toxic (although ineffective in the treatment of inflammation). The company also has three other early stage compounds under development for neuropathic pain.
NeuroDiscovery is well known in the biotech world through its service arm since numerous high profile drug companies outsource their electrophysiology test work to NeuroSolutions.
NDL has a tight share structure (36.425 million shares of which only 13 million are tradeable, the rest are in escrow), a prestigious management team with international credentials, a very low cash burn rate and $2.4 million in cash.
Definition of neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain does not generally respond to treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is chronic pain that arises from damage to sensory nerves.
It includes pain arising from trapped or compressed nerves; drug induced nerve damage; diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic pain, phantom limb syndrome following limb amputation; peripheral neuropathy and fibromyalgia as well as arthritis, including both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
There are several products on the market for the relief of neuropathic pain, including Pfizer’s US$ 2 billion drug gabapentin, considered to be the “gold standard”, opioids like morphine (sedative and addictive),,non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (largely seen as ineffective) and cyclo-oxygenase II (COX II) inhibitors (the recent discovery that several of the leading COX-II compounds have unwanted cardiac related side effects created alarm). In addition there are injectable toxins under development.
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