Dr Boreham’s Crucible: Island Therapeutics

Small Caps | Jun 17 2024

The next twelve months could be exciting for Dengue fever solutions seeker Island Therapeutics, the New Criterion's Tim Boreham reports.

ASX code: ((ILA))

Market cap: $7.1m

Shares on issue: 114,536,544

Financials (March quarter 2024) receipts nil, cash outflows -$1.17m, cash of $1.58m (pre-rights offer that raised $1.95m before costs)

Chief executive officer: Dr David Foster

Board: Dr Paul MacLeman (executive chair), Dr Foster, Dr Anna Lavelle, Al Hansen, Dr David Brookes

Identifiable major shareholders: Dr William James Garner 19.26%, Jason Alan Carroll 17.46%, Albert Hansen/Kesa Partners 9.69%

By Tim Boreham, Editor, The New Criterion

Apologies for bringing up the V virus word in a pandemic-weary world, but the mosquito-borne dengue fever is running rampant and spreading to geographies hitherto unaffected.

"Dengue is the most common viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that affects people," the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports.

"Every year, tens of millions of cases are reported, and it causes about 20,000 to 25,000 deaths with a higher impact on children."

Brazil accounts for the majority of cases, but Peru is also having its worst outbreak in history while India and South East Asia are not immune.

"It's shaping up as a really, really bad year," says Island Therapeutics CEO Dr David Foster.

Island is on the job with a repurposed molecule, ISLA-101, which promises to be a treatment for the symptoms, or a vaccine-like prophylactic.

The mechanism of action of ISLA-101 is to prevent the spread of infectious cells by breaking down the interaction between the viral and host protein.

Developed as a cancer drug but never approved, ISLA-101 shows "excellent activity" against all four dengue strains.

ISLA-101 is also recognised as safe, having undergone no fewer than 45 cancer trials in Europe and elsewhere.

Island is undertaking a phase II study, in anticipation of a phase III program pitched at US Food and Drug Administration approval.

Dengue fever more than an itch

Spread by the Dengue mosquito or Asian Tiger mosquito, dengue fever is found in more than 100 tropical and sub-tropical countries of Asia, Africa and South America.

Most sufferers are asymptomatic. The trouble is, there are four different strains DENV-1 to DENV-4 - and a second occurrence can be much worse.

Typically lasting a week, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, seizures, itching, "pleural effusion" and even "altered minds".

Dengue fever can also be fatal, although that is rare.

"Dengue fever is the very definition of an unmet medical need," the company says.

Factors, including climate change, mean that half the population is at risk, as the pestilence is spreading from tropical countries - typically poor ones - to locations such as Florida, Texas, northern Queensland and the Mediterranean.

University of Oxford and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data cheerily suggest large swathes of Australia will be environmentally vulnerable by 2050 all the way down to northern and central NSW.

When the multi-maire Byron Bay beautiful people are afflicted, we will never hear the end of it.

The company cites US dengue fever hospitalisation costs of about US$7,000 ($10,600) per patient.

About Island

Island's sole raison d'etre is to further ISLA-101, identified by Johnson & Johnson as a potential cancer treatment.

J&J donated the program which had FDA investigational new drug (IND) status - to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI).

"We called the NCI and in effect they said you can have it," Dr Foster says.

The full story is for FNArena subscribers only. To read the full story plus enjoy a free two-week trial to our service SIGN UP HERE

If you already had your free trial, why not join as a paying subscriber? CLICK HERE