Dr Boreham’s Crucible: Argenica Therapeutics

Small Caps | Sep 28 2023

By Tim Boreham

ASX code: ((AGN))

Shares on issue: 99,150,822

Market cap: $39.7m

Chief executive: Dr Liz Dallimore

Board: Geoff Pocock (chair), Dr Dallimore, Dr Samantha South, Terry Budge, Liddy McCall

Finances (year to June 2023): revenue nil, net loss -$4.81m (previously a -$4.09m deficit), cash of $9.29m (up 4%).

Identifiable major holders: Oofy Prosser (Drones family) 4.47%, Neil Donald Delroy 4.24%, Perron Institute 3.58%, University of WA 3.45%

For such a common and debilitating disease, strokes haven’t garnered their fair share of attention, but this is changing as more drug developers turn their attention to the underserved condition that affects one in four adults.

“One in four people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime and of those only 10% will recover completely,” says Argenica chief Dr Liz Dallimore.

“There are no neuro-protective drugs to prevent cell death, post-event.”

While 15m people globally suffer a stroke each year, five million of them fatally, there’s no effective treatment for front-line responders (usually paramedics) to administer.

Victims of the most common ischaemic (vessel blockage) strokes are usually delivered anti-clotting medication, but this can only be administered up to four hours after the event.

Argenica’s lead candidate is ARG-007, a cationic arginine-rich peptide.

Arginines are not denizens of a populous South American nation but are amino acids derived from one’s diet and essential for producing proteins. ARG-007 has multiple mechanisms of action which prevent cascading cell deaths.

In effect, if used as a front-line therapy it buys time for the patient. Hopefully.

Potted history

Argenica and ARG-007 are based on research carried out by the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Perron Neuroscience Institute. This effort was headed up by the UWA’s Prof Bruno Meloni and Prof Neville Knuckey, head of stroke research at Perron.

Argenica listed on June 11, 2021 after raising $7m at 20 cents a share.

The compound has been assessed in 25 peer-reviewed publications, mainly in relation to ischaemic stroke, but also traumatic brain injury (TBI) and infant stroke.

Dr Dallimore started out in stroke research at the Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute, now the Perron Institute.

After completing a Doctor of Philosophy in neuroplasticity - jointly at the University of WA and at Oxford - Dr Dallimore then picked up a Masters of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management.

She changed tack and worked for some of the big accounting firms for 15 years. But she remained a board member of the Perron Institute where Prof Meloni, now Argenica’s chief scientific officer, worked.

Hailing from a scientific Perth family, Dr Dallimore says her interest in brain regeneration developed after a friend developed quadriplegia from rugby.

“The brain is mostly fat and water [but] is a complex organ that cannot be understood like other organs,” she says.

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