Nyrada (ASX:NYR) targeting cholesterol-lowering drug candidate


by Rachael Jones

Nyrada Limited (ASX:NYR) Executive Director and Founder, Dr Graham Kelly and CEO, James Bonnar talk about current projects and lead compound targeting cholesterol.

Rachael Jones: Hello, I'm Rachael Jones for the Finance News Network. Joining me from Nyrada (ASX:NYR) is founder and executive director, Dr Graham Kelly and CEO James Bonnar. Welcome, guys.

Dr Graham Kelly: Thank you.

James Bonnar: Hi.

Rachael Jones: Now, Graham, what is Nyrada or and how did it come about?

Dr Graham Kelly: Well, it's a biotechnology company. We're involved in drug development. It's been spun out of Noxopharm (ASX:NOX), and as you know in Noxopharm is focused on oncology drug development or anti-cancer drug development. About two years ago, Noxopharm came up with some intellectual property that was related to its oncology programs but had non-oncology applications, and it was just too important to not do anything with. And so Noxopharm being focused on oncology, we thought the best thing to do was to create a second company to hold the non-oncology opportunity, and that's what Nyrada is.

Rachael Jones: Excellent. So it's currently a preclinical company. What can you tell me about three projects that you have at the moment?

Dr Graham Kelly: We're dealing with two major areas of human health, which is cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions. So, heart disease, sciatica, but in the middle we've got cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke can lead to brain damage, that's neurological damage. And then you've got neurological damage from traumatic brain injury like concussion. So that's the unique overarching combination of three programs that we have in Nyrada.

Rachael Jones: So Graham, is there anything else you can tell me about the programs and the cholesterol lowering drug candidate?

Dr Graham Kelly: Each of the three programs we're dealing with are all in major areas of unmet need. I mean, these are three of the largest areas of therapeutic interest in the world today, and our lead compound, is a program called PCSK9, which a lot of people have never heard of. But what they have heard of is high blood cholesterol, and many of us have that.

In fact, in the United States it's estimated that about a hundred million adults, so that's out of a population of about 350 million, about 100 million adults have cholesterol levels which are higher than they should be. So two big pharmaceutical companies, three years ago, released drugs what are known as monoclonal antibodies. Those are these big proteins that fight PCSK9, and they work extremely well. The problem is they have to be injected every two weeks. They're quite expensive. They're costing somewhere between 5 and 7,000 Australian dollars a year. So there's been a lot of market resistance to the uptake of those two compounds.

We at Nyrada and a lot of other people believe that the answer lies in being able to give an oral drug, not something you have to inject every two to four weeks, but something you take every day in combination with an oral statin tablet and it's not expensive, if it can be given, we believe, for less than $2,000 a year, then we believe we've created an enormous market opportunity.

Rachael Jones: Thanks Graham. And over to you now, James. You have extensive experience in the neurological field. What can you tell me about this, and also what drew you to Nyrada's neuroprotection drug candidate for brain injury patients?

James Bonnar: That's right. So prior to joining Nyrada, I had 12 years of neurology research experience, and that included traumatic brain injury in neurodevelopmental disorders. I was involved in several studies in those fields including a couple of studies that were run in conjunction with the US military. These are serious conditions, and currently there are no effective treatments available. And so, when the opportunity came along to work on a program like Nyrada's, especially with people like Gary Housley at UNSW, that opportunity was too big to pass up.

Rachael Jones: And last question over to you now Graham. What is ahead for Nyrada?

Dr Graham Kelly: We're excited by the future, Rachel, and with three programs all in areas of massive unmet need, and interestingly, all areas where there's a lot of M&A and activity going on currently, we've given ourselves two years in each of those three programs to identify the lead compound and to work towards the clinic. And in that time to hopefully have established collaborations with large pharma companies that we hope then would lead into strategic alliances.

So Nyrada does not see itself as the ultimate retailer of these drugs. We are an early stage developer, and we see our role as developing these drugs to the point of clinical use, and then passing them on to bigger partners. So our value realisation point for shareholders, we see as coming within the next two years.

Rachael Jones: Graham Kelly and James Bonnar, thank you so much for the update.

Dr Graham Kelly: Thank you, Rachael.

James Bonnar: Thanks, Rachael.