Dr. Boreham’s Crucible: Telix Pharmaceuticals
Small caps | 12:01
Telix Pharmaceuticals’ prostate cancer imaging product, Illucix, is quickly taking over the US, but company management has (much) loftier ambitions.
ASX Code: ((TLX))
Market cap: $2.02 billion
Shares issued: 312,916,341
Managing Director: Dr. Christian Behrenbruch
Board: Kevin McCann (Chair), Dr Behrenbruch, Dr Andreas Kluge (co-founder), Dr Mark Nelson, Oliver Buck, Jann Skinner, Tiffany Olson
Financials (six months to June 30, 2022): revenue of $24.05 million (up $21.1 million), loss of -$70.6 million (up 111%), cash of $122.6 million
Main shareholders: Gnosis Verwaltungsgesellschaft (Dr Kluge) 7.39%, Elk River Holdings (Dr Behrenbruch) 7.2%, Grand Decade (China Grand Pharmaceuticals)* 3.49%
* Last week, China Grand sold 10 million shares, or 47.7% of its stake
By Tim Borham
For those unfamiliar with nuclear medicine – and we’d hazard to assume that’s 99.9999% of the (recurring) population – one isotope looks pretty similar to the other.
Cancer radiation therapy dates back more than a century, and English radiation therapist Frederick Soddy “discovered” isotopes – radioactive versions of an element – in 1913.
So, to the layman, it seems baffling that Telix Pharmaceuticals has made such a splash in the US market with a new isotope for prostate imaging, called Illuccix.
In its infancy since approval, Illuccix sells its pants, even though there is an established competitor in the market and another in sight.
Efficiency improvements aside, Telix chief and co-founder Dr. Chris Behrenbruch says it’s more convenient access to short-lived, invisible rays.
While rival isotopes are produced in expensive cyclotrons, Telixes can be generated in any of the approximately 150 “nuclear pharmacies” scattered across the United States (including hospitals and cancer centers).
“You do it when you need to,” says Dr. Behrenbruch.
“[Fast food outlet] The metro is successful because it is on every street corner. We’re on every corner, which is really important when you’re talking about a product with a few hours of street life.
Either way, Illuccix grabbed a foot market share, having only launched in the US in early May.
Telix is now targeting wider geographic areas, as well as its tracking isotope to detect kidney cancer.
Beyond that, Telix is developing therapeutics – as opposed to diagnostics – and is confident of having a treatment for glioblastoma on the market in about three years.
Telix develops both imaging therapies (diagnostics) and cancers on its Molecular Targeted Radiation (MTR) platform.
A relatively new discipline, targeted molecular radiation makes it possible to deliver radioactive isotopes to biological targets expressed by cancers. As a result, healthy cells are not irradiated during the process.
Telix was founded in November 2015 by Dr. Behrenbruch and Dr. Andreas Kluge.
Telix went public in November 2017 after raising $50 million at 65 cents each. Dr. Kluge founded the Dresden-based radiopharmaceutical company Therapeia, which was acquired by Telix for nominal cash and the assumption of approximately $1 million in debt.
Dr. Behrenbruch was also executive director of Factor Therapeutics, which is now known as Dominion Minerals and fossils for lime and lithium in the United States.
He also served on the board of Amplia Therapeutics.
Chief Commercial Officer Dr David Cade joined Telix in October 2019, having served as Chief Medical Officer at Cochlear. Prior to that, he held senior positions at the targeted radiation therapy house Sirtex Medical.
Based in Melbourne, Dr Behrenbruch has led US operations for several months, but hopes to return to normal duties after the company recently appointed a “cute” new chief for the Americas, Kevin Richardson.
Doing it big in the United States…
Telix’s watershed moment came in mid-December last year when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Illuccix for prostate cancer imaging.
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the product in early November, so we’d like to think the FDA bigwigs took inspiration from their colleagues down under.
Technically, Illuccix is a preparation kit of gallium-68 gozetotide – more commonly known as PSMA-11 injection – for positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
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