Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting dengue, with cases expected to reach record highs this year. Sounding the alarm on its prevalence, the WHO dictates that there are about 100-400 million infections occurring each year. And global warming is to blame, creating a thriving environment for mosquitoes.
Dengue fever’s presence has extended to over 100 countries, including the US, EU and Australia. In Europe, the number of locally transmitted cases of dengue last year nearly equaled the total from the past 11 years combined. Similarly, Peru experienced its most serious outbreak in Latin America earlier this year, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in multiple regions. In January, WHO classified Dengue as the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease, which poses a possible “pandemic threat”.
A potential solution is Australian antiviral drug development company Island Pharmaceuticals (ASX: ILA)’s candidate ISLA-101, which has been granted a key patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The U.S. patent, titled “Method of Viral Inhibition”, was officially granted as U.S. Patent No. 11,752,116 and will remain valid until April 16, 2034, with the possibility of extension through Patent Term Adjustment. This patent’s claims focus on techniques for averting or postponing the occurrence of dengue fever symptoms by providing ISLA-101 to individuals when they are in a situation where they may be exposed to the virus.
CEO of Island Pharmaceuticals, Dr David Foster said, “We are very pleased to be granted this latest patent in the U.S. as it strengthens our growing intellectual property portfolio and further protects our lead program, in which ISLA-101 is being developed for use in dengue fever. With major outbreaks continuing to be reported around the world and the number of dengue fever cases increasing, the need for new approaches and treatments such as the ISLA-101 program is more imperative than ever. This makes IP protection fundamental to our success as we advance towards the commencement of clinical trials.”
Island is a pharmaceutical company specializing in repurposing drugs, with a particular focus on addressing the unmet requirements for antiviral treatments to combat infectious diseases. Its primary candidate is ISLA-101, initially a cancer drug but now repurposed for the prevention and treatment of diseases like dengue fever and other illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes or other vectors.
In FY23, the Company’s revenue stood at $11.1k against a loss of $2.8 million. Its cash in hand also fell from $4.7 million in FY22 to $1.9 million. Island secured research funding for the upcoming PEACH study on dengue fever, granted to The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), based at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, to further the development of ISLA-101. The grant—worth over $2 million from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP)—will support laboratory testing and data analysis for Island’s planned clinical trial at SUNY. This trial aims to assess the effectiveness of ISLA-101 in combating dengue infections induced in a human challenge model.
Island has obtained the intellectual property rights for ISLA-101, which were created by Monash University. This recent U.S. patent enhances an already robust intellectual property portfolio that spans Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Singapore.
Now seems to be the breeding ground for profitability given the rising cases. If the ISLA-101 is commercialised in the coming months, the Company can look to recovering its cash burn soon.
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