‘Long Covid’ could be detected by a blood test. Antisense is filing patents on how to do it

Fri 19 Aug 22, 11:30am (AEDT)
Medical vials containing blood samples sit upright in a yellow tray
Source: iStock

Key Points

  • A study has led Antisense to identify key proteins in the blood of people with long covid
  • The company believes its existing ATL1102 product, which suppresses the creation of select proteins, may work as a treatment
  • At this time, the company is seeking to commercially strategise its retention of legal exclusivity

Antisense Therapeutics (ASX:ANP) is up 18% in morning trades as the company files patents in the US to protect its method of identifying Long Covid in self-reporting patients with nothing more than a blood test. 

The discovery was brought to the fore by a research project from within a specialised neurological department, focusing on covid, at the Northwestern Medicine clinic in Chicago. 

After studying blood samples from covid patients reporting long covid symptoms, Antisense has landed upon several key protein markers in the blood of people who have had covid but were not hospitalised. A leading expert in the field, Dr. Igor Koralnik, worked alongside Antisense. 

The company’s medical team say those key proteins detectable in blood samples are higher than in those who report long covid, as compared to those who recover from covid and do not report any lingering symptoms. 

In the near future, Antisense will review those patents and take them to a series of targeted commercial negotiations with pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies. 

What is ‘Long Covid?’

Long covid is the name given to a well-documented phenomenon where covid-19 patients report physical and or psychological health impacts long after catching covid and seemingly recovering from the virus. 

One of those most commonly described side effects impacting users is ‘brain fog,’ and this symptom was in large part a deciding factor on selecting long covid patients for the study. Antisense cites research suggesting up to 475,000 Australians may be afflicted with the condition. 

The company also points to US data, stating some 24M people who caught covid early in the first year of the pandemic experience “some manifestation” of long covid. 

Detection, then treatment

Antisense is confident its existing flagship medicinal product, ATL1102, can be used in a way that benefits long covid patients. The drug interacts with mRNA in the human body (best thought of as a cousin to DNA) to prevent cells from producing certain proteins. 

The company is hopeful it can use ATL1102 to prevent the human body from producing those proteins which occur in elevated levels among those who report long covid symptoms, however, shareholders should note more research is needed at this stage to ascertain the exact efficacy of this proposed treatment method. 

Should Antisense be successful, it will open up a new commercial horizon for its flagship product. At this time, ATL1102 is intended for the treatment of muscular dystrophy, with results from recent Phase II trials supportive of the company’s overall strategy. 

Antisense well-placed to continue development 

At the end of the June quarter, Antisense had $19.2m in cash and had spent $2.4m in the quarter. 

The company has a market cap of $86.9m and is ranked 80 of 211 constituents in the healthcare sector. 

One month returns are up 62.5% and one week performance up 30%. 

However, the company has not been spared from heavy selling activity affecting a lot of the healthcare and biotech market this year, as energy and materials continue to compete for investor interest. 

On a year to date (YTD) basis, Antisense shares are down -33.33%. 

One year returns, meanwhile, are -25%.

Antisense's six month charts reveal the sharp upward reversal of interest in the company since early August
Antisense's six month charts reveal the sharp upward reversal of interest in the company since early August


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Written By

Jonathon Davidson

Finance Writer

Jonathon is a journalism graduate and avid market watcher with exposure to governance, NGO and mining environments. He was most recently hired as an oil and gas specialist for a trade publication.

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