A Sydney biotech company devoted to treating chronic wounds by taking on the “force shield” where germs hang out has more than trebled in value since its ICO six weeks ago.
Backed by billionaire property developer Lang Walker, Next Science was up 30.6 per cent last week and has soared since its mid-April ASX debut to close at $3.63 on Friday.
The company has a suite of gels and washes aimed at tackling “biofilm,” a cellular matrix where as much as 90 per cent of bacteria can be found.
“Think of it like a slimy bomb shelter, one that’s bound together so tightly that antibiotics can’t get it,” chief executive Judith Mitchell said.
“If it were a Star Wars film, think of it like a force shield. We go in and down the shield.”
Next Science has four products approved for sale in the US, aimed at treating chronic wounds and preventing post-surgical infections.
They should all be available in Australia next year, with sales of an over-the-counter treatment for chronic acne – also a biofilm – slated to begin this year.
Ms Mitchell said gels and washes have been used to treat 90,000 patients, with its BlastX chronic wound care gel in some cases successfully treating year-old wounds.
“Patients are turning to us when really nothing else has worked,” she said.
Because the gels don’t rely on antibiotics, antibiotic resistance isn’t an issue, Ms Mitchell said.
Ten million people around the world have chronic wounds, including 433,000 in Australia, costing the healthcare system $2.6 billion a year, Ms Mitchell said.
3M is distributing BlastX, while Zimmer Biomet and Grace Medical are selling the company’s other products.
Next Science was founded in 2012 by Florida researcher Matthew Myntti, and Mr Walker ended up funding the company for its first five years after hearing about it on the board of Neuren Pharmaceuticals.
The wife of a board member and Dr Myntti’s wife share a cousin, Ms Mitchell said.
“True luck. This was just a serendipitous situation.”
Serendipitous for Dr Myntti – and for Mr Walker, who now owns 42.42 per cent of a $665 million company.
While many small biotech companies are acquired, Ms Mitchell said Next Science’s product line was likely too diverse for that and 65 per cent of its shares are in escrow anyway.
“Nobody’s going anywhere for two years,” she said.
Instead Next Science is looking to add new products to prevent keloid scars and treat bacterial vaginosis, atopic dermatitis, nail fungus and the skin condition impetigo, as well as partnering with other companies for research, development and commercialisation.
“We can be a disinfectant, we can clean surfaces for food, we can grow crops, we can do lots of stuff,” Ms Mitchell said.