Algernon Pharmaceutical Serendipity

Serendipity is often defined as ‘happy accident’. I have always loved this description of the word. It plays a big role in life whether we like it or not.

Louis Pasteur’s saying that “Chance favors only the prepared mind”. Psychologist Kevin Dunbar and colleagues estimate that between 30% and 50% of all scientific discoveries are accidental, in some sense chance. In the Pharmaceutical  Sector we can look at sildenafil (a medicine designed for pulmonary arterial hypertension, now familiar as “Viagra“, and we all know what that is for!

It was serendipitous that I was introduced to a drug re-purposing company called Algernon Pharmaceuticals. Algernon Pharmaceuticals is a company that just started a Phase 2b/3 clinical trial with a potential solution for treatment of COVID 19.

That is the immediate short-term attraction to this company. Roughly 90% of drug companies never get to this stage!

That is the urgency and immediate relevancy to this article. They announced there first patient in the multinational Phase 2b/3 human study of NP-120 (Ifenprodil) for the treatment of COVID-19.

It is not the sole purpose nor even the original design for the company. In fact, they may even be a little annoyed at me for being so curt and blunt.

If you asked Christopher J. Moreau, Chief Executive Officer of Algernon Pharmaceuticals he would say that they are a drug re-purposing company that: investigates safe, already approved drugs for new disease applications, moving them efficiently and safely into new human trials, developing new formulations and seeking new regulatory approvals in global markets. They are a clinical stage drug development company focused on the areas of non–alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), chronic kidney disease (CKD), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). In short, the company has had some happy accident in that the original re-purposed use of their drug Ifenprodil was for IPF not COVID. The COVID opportunity came to them later.

We are all faced with a global pandemic that has cost the world enormously.  Every aspect of our lives is affected and my goal in Supercharged Stocks was to work with companies that have significant positive human impact with the goal of a better tomorrow. Not only value investing but values investing, and this company meets that criteria. The happy accident for Algernon Pharmaceuticals is that their business is in harnessing, recognizing new therapeutic uses for existing drugs.

In a later article we will have a chance to discuss each stage of development for a pharma company. It is necessary to know where you are at each stage, the risk matric and where on the curve you want to invest. In short, Algernon is in Phase 2 with human trials, which is the most dynamic growth part of the curve. Because Dr. Mark Williams PhD and Chief Science Officer at the company originally recognized the possibility of Ifenprodil as a means of treating lung fibrosis (scarring) in patients who have IPF. That data along with stunning data of Ifenprodil reducing mortality in an H5N1 study, the world most fatal (60%) avian flu, naturally led to its theoretical use in treating humans for COVID 19 and to this incredible announcement today.

The strategy of drug Repurposing can save up to 8 years of pre-clinical research meaning 10’s of millions of dollars in R&D. … and dramatically reduce the risk of failure due to safety issues.

…Dr. Mark Williams has repurposed 3 drugs to date!

This is a fascinating story but let me keep it simple at first and we can get into it later but essentially this is a re-purpose drug play. This is a key term and driver in the market over the past year. Drug re-purposing involves the investigation of existing drugs for new therapeutic purposes: taking a drug that was used for one thing but applying it for another purpose. So, in a way it is taking past data used for one reason and seeing that it has favorable outcomes in another area. Serendipitous. This may seem counterintuitive, but this is quite regular. Liken it to the ‘may cause’ side effects we read in many prescriptions today. The integration and cross purpose of drugs is common. Sometimes a drug for your blood may cause thrush or a rash on your skin. Sometimes a drug developed for psoriasis could end up treating multiple sclerosis like Biogen’s billion-dollar blockbuster drug Tecfidera. In short what we find is that sometimes having all the data and research explored for new and specific purposes can elevate a drug into a new market.

Today the Company announced two major milestones: the first patient dosed in its Phase 2 idiopathic IPF and chronic cough clinical study and the enrollment of its first patient in its COVID 19 trial.  Two clinical trials with 3 disease indications…. the bases are loaded.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Andrew O’Donnell have been paid for this article and work with Algernon Pharmaceuticals on publishing media.

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