Starpharma (ASX:SPL) - It's big business putting new life into old drugs

Stuart Roberts

If you've looked at the Life Sciences sector in Australia any time in the last ten years you would likely have come across Starpharma (ASX: SPL), now a >A$250m company. That's because of Starpharma's 'VivaGel'. As an anti-microbial polymer coating for condoms VivaGel is genius - the statistics on condom slippage and breakage suggest it can be 2-3%. Starpharma also has evidence that VivaGel can treat a common female health condition called bacterial vaginosis. However VivaGel isn't necessarily where the really big money is. I think Starpharma's biggest news yet was a year ago when AstraZeneca licensed the company's 'dendrimers' for use in cancer drugs. Dendrimers are complicated but powerful molecules that represent Starpharma's technology base. This innovative company has a large body of knowledge on how drugs can change their properties for the better when you formulate them with dendrimers. Big Pharma is now paying up to use this know-how - for the first product AstraZeneca develops using dendrimers, that company will pay up to US$124m in milestones. It will pay up to US$93m for each subsequent product.


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