Biotech Business Indicators
Previous editions of Biotech Indicators are available at www.innovation.gov.au/biotech_indicators
Biotech Business Indicators (BBI) provides information on the state of the Australian Biotechnology sector
Australian biotechnology companies achieved their highest ever market capitalisation of $25.8 billion by
the end of the first quarter of 2011 (Q1 2011). Their ability to recover so strongly from the global financial
crisis is a reflection of the growing maturity of the biotechnology sector overall. Many own unique products
with valuable intellectual property, allowing them to compete in the international marketplace.
The role of the Australian Government
The Australian Government has made a significant investment in the biotechnology sector, recognising its
potential to treat major diseases, improve food production and reduce the impacts of climate change.
Government support includes assistance with commercialising intellectual property and funding for
collaborative research in rapidly growing markets in Asia. Also, in the year to 31 March 2011, more than
$14 million was invested in biotechnology and life science companies through our venture capital
programs, including the Innovation Investment Fund.
The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has a particular focus on industrial
biotechnology as an enabler of both environmentally and economically sustainable processes, especially in
the emerging area of conversion of biomass into chemicals and bioplastics. Australia’s current capabilities
in this field include biomaterials and biomining as well as the production of chemicals and enzymes.
Biotech Market Capitalisation (ASX Listed Companies)
During Q1 2011, the 64 biotechnology companies tracked by Biotech Business Indicators (BBI) recorded a
5% increase in market capitalisation to reach $25.8 billion at the end of March 2011. This is their highest
ever total market value.
BBI tracks companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) under the Global Industry
Classification Standard Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences.
CSL continues to be Australia’s largest biotech company, with a market cap of $19.7 billion at the end of
March 2011, or 76.5% of the total market capitalisation of companies tracked by BBI. CSL develops and
manufactures blood plasma products, cell culture media, vaccines and anti-venoms.
During Q1 2011, stem cell specialist Mesoblast achieved a market capitalisation of $2.1 billion.
Aside from CSL, the combined market capitalisation of the other 63 companies increased markedly over
the second half of 2010, reaching a record high of $6.07 billion by 31 March 2011, or a growth of 28.5%
from the previous quarter. The previous high of $5.4 billion was recorded at the end of March 2007.
According to Ernst & Young, at least part of this positive performance is attributable to exchange rate
The growth of the Australian biotech sector since 2004 illustrates the ongoing benefits of a strong research
base, underlined by the increasing number of companies with products in the later stages of clinical trials
or on the market. The sector’s major export continues to be intellectual property through licensing deals
and other partnerships with large international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
BBI compared to ASX Health Index
The following graph compares the market capitalisation of all listed biotech companies, including and not
including CSL, to the ASX Health Care Index . The ASX Health Index is a broader category that includes
healthcare, pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies.
The graph shows that during Q1 2011, the Health Care Index decreased by 0.1% from 8933.2 to 8925.0.
The biotech sector has outperformed the broader health care industry since the end of Q2 2007.
Market capitalisation of all listed biotech companies with and without CSL, and ASX Health Index*,
by quarter to end Q1 20111
Significant changes to market capitalisation during Q1 20112:
The major percentage increases were:
Bionomics Ltd (ASX:BNO) (cancer and central nervous system therapeutics): grew 61.4% or
$60.1m to $159.3m.
Biota Holdings Ltd (ASX:BTA) (respiratory diseases, particularly influenza): grew 44.5% or
$79.6m to $258.5m.
Calzada Ltd (ASX:CZD) (peptides, biodegradable polymers): grew 111.5% or $10.1m to $19.1m.
Mesoblast Ltd (ASX:MSB) (adult stem cell technology): grew 73.8% or $871.3m to $2.1b.
Prima BioMed Ltd (ASX:PRR) (cancer immunotherapy and immunology): grew 88.4% or
$111.2m to $238.6m.
Starpharma Holdings Ltd (ASX:SPL): (nano tech pharmaceuticals using dendrimer technology):
grew 65.9% or $132.8m to $334.4m.
Other companies with large increases in market capitalisation include:
CBio Ltd (ASX:CBZ): up 218.5% or $64.1m to $93.5m
Genetic Technologies Ltd (ASX:GTG): up 166.7% or $22.3m to $35.6m
Antisense Therapeutics Ltd (ASX:ANP): up 100% or $6.2m to $12.4m
Select Vaccines Ltd (ASX:SLT): up 66.7% or $4.5m to $11.3m
Viralytics Ltd (ASX:VLA): up 43.4% or $7.9m to $26.1m
ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:CXS): up 38.5% or $49.5m to $178.5m
Avexa Ltd (ASX:AVX): up 35.9% or $11.9m to $44.9m
Market cap decreases were more modest and included:
Genera Biosystems Ltd (ASX:GBI): down 37.8% or $10.7m to $17.5m
Living Cell Technologies Ltd (ASX:LCT): down 37.2% or $14.2m to $24.1m
Mergers & Acquisitions/Secondary Capital Raisings3
Living Cell Technologies Ltd (ASX:LCT): received $1.7m payment from Jiangsu Aosaikang Pharmaceutical
Co. Ltd (ASK) for a 4.7% stake in LCT. ASK is a Chinese research-based pharmaceutical company. The
investment allows LCT to progress development and clinical trials of its lead product DIABACELL®, for the
treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
Listed biotech companies that made notable secondary capital raisings over Q1 2011 include: BioProspect
Ltd (ASX:BPO): $3m; NuSep Ltd (ASX:NSP); $1m; Phylogica Ltd (ASX:PYC): $5.2m; Prana Biotechnology
Ltd (ASX:PBT): $6.1m and pSivida Ltd (ASX:PVA): US11.1m.
Bioniche Life Sciences (ASX:BNC) became the first biotech Initial Public Offering in 11 months when it
listed on 21 January 2011 for $12.5m. Originating in Canada, Bioniche is a research-based, technology-
driven company focused on the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of proprietary
products for human and animal health markets worldwide.
Clinical trials commenced or completed in Q1 2011 include:
Bionomics Ltd (ASX:BNO) Completed two Phase 1b trials in France of BNC210, a small molecule product
being developed for the treatment for anxiety and depression.
Biota Ltd (ASX:BTA) Partner company GlaxoSmithKline commenced a Phase III study of hospitalised
patients with influenza, to compare intravenous zanamivir to oral oseltamivir. The
trial is planned to be conducted in over 20 countries that take into account flu
seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Biotron Ltd (ASX:BIT) Completed stage one of a human trial of its lead Hepatitis C drug candidate
BIT225 in patients with the most common strain of the virus, genotype 1. BIT255
targets the p7 protein essential to viral production and replication.
Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals Ltd Completed a Phase II study in the US of the novel photoprotective drug
(ASX:CUV) afamelonatide (SCENESSE®) in reducing phototoxic skin reactions in patients
with the rare light intolerance disorder erythropoietic protoporphyria.
Prima BioMed Ltd (ASX:PRR) Completed a Phase IIb trial of lead product CVac immunotherapy ovarian
cancer vaccine, administered after surgery and chemotherapy to delay relapse
and control metastases.
Starpharma Holdings Ltd Completed a Phase II study in the US of VivaGel® for the treatment of bacterial
Virax Holdings Ltd Completed a Phase I/IIa trial in South Africa for VIR201 HIV therapeutic vaccine
(ASX:VHL) in South Africa.
Approvals announced in Q1 2011 include:
Pharmaxis Ltd The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Bronchitol (inhaled dry powder
(ASX:PXS) mannitol) for marketing in Australia for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, and inclusion on
the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
Biotech companies issued with patents in Q1 2011 include:
Agenix Ltd (ASX:AGX): European patent granted for humanised antibodies derived from DD-3B6/22,
specific for the D-Dimer fragment of Fibrin and the basis of Agenix’s diagnostic lead product
Benitec Ltd (ASX:BLT): Announced outcomes in its Graham family patent (‘099) applications exclusively
licensed from CSIRO worldwide for human therapeutics – the US re-issued the patent; Australia, Slovakia
and India each granted the patent.
Genera Biosystems Ltd (ASX:GBI): US patent granted for PapType test for human papilloma virus, using
nucleic acid probes, microbeads and fluorescent-activated cell sorter.
HealthLinx Ltd (ASX:HTX): UK patent granted for OvPlex ovarian cancer diagnostic technology. The
patent covers proprietary biomarkers and the methodology used for implementing the test in a clinical
Immuron Ltd (ASX: IMC): Australian patent granted for the company’s influenza preventative product
candidate (Imm-255), potentially the world’s first orally administered product for mucosal protection against
influenza viruses and designed to cope with rapidly changing strains as viruses evolve.
Living Cell Technologies Ltd (ASX:LCT): Australian patent granted for IMMUPEL , an industry-leading
encapsulating and protecting living cells from immune rejection without the need for immunosuppressant
drugs, while allowing the transplanted cells to function normally.
Progen Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:PGL): granted US patent to protect the PG500 series of small
molecule compounds and their use in therapeutic areas predominantly relating to oncology and
Benitec Ltd and Biomics Biotechnologies Co. Ltd (China): following the first stage of their collaboration
to develop an RNA interference therapy against the Hepatitis B virus, the companies have agreed to
proceed to the point of pre-clinical studies.
Circadian Technologies Ltd and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd (Japan): exclusive global licence
granted to Circadian subsidiary Vegenics Pty Ltd, giving access to Chugai’s intellectual property rights
relating to vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGF-D), a novel target for cancer and respiratory
Phylogica Ltd and XL-protein GmbH (Germany): alliance combining Phylogica’s Phylomer drug
discovery platform and XL-protein’s PASylation modification technology. The alliance gives Phylogica
access to a unique modification technology that strengthens the company’s Phylomer drug discovery
Phylogica Ltd and University of Cambridge (UK): partnering in a spin-off company based in Cambridge.
The spin-off, Phenomica, will combine the University’s technology with Phylogica’s Phylomer libraries,
comprising billions of naturally derived peptides, to identify the vulnerable points in a disease as the focus
for new drug development.
Virax Holdings Ltd and Transgene (France): worldwide exclusive licence agreement for Virax to develop
biopharmaceutical company Transgene’s clinical-stage skin cancer immunotherapy product TG1042.
Living Cell Technologies Ltd (ASX:LCT): awarded two grants worth US$280,000. NZ charity Cure Kids
and US charity Children with Diabetes Foundation are each providing US$140,000 to sponsor patients in
LCT’s NZ Phase II clinical trial of DIABACELL implant treatment for Type 1 diabetes, to assist in
determining the minimum effective dose.
Prana Biotechnology Ltd (ASX:PBT): awarded US$700,000 over two years by US based Alzheimer’s
Drug Discovery Foundation to conduct a Phase II clinical trial investigating the potential of PBT2 to reduce
the accumulation of beta-amyloid, thought to be a cause of brain cell death and dementia in Alzheimer’s
Starpharma Holdings Ltd (ASX:SPL): awarded $250,000 from the Victorian Government’s Small
Technologies Industry Uptake Program to improve delivery of agrochemicals, using its Priostar® dendrimer
technology to enable healthier plant growth and fight plant disease
1. Ernst & Young ‘Beyond borders - Global biotechnology report 2011’
2. Trading Room website: www.tradingroom.com.au
3. Australian Securities Exchange website: www.asx.com.au