Health Care

PharmAust (ASX:PAA) – Dr. Roger Aston



The CEO Mindset - Dr. Roger Aston is the Executive Chairman of PharmAust (ASX:PAA)

Dr. Roger Aston is the Executive Chairman of PharmAust (ASX:PAA), a clinical-stage company developing targeted cancer therapeutics to address both human and animal healthcare. The company specialises in repurposing marketed drugs lowering the risks and costs of development. These efforts are supported by PAA’s subsidiary, Epichem, which is a highly successful contract medicinal chemistry company that generates significant annual revenues.

What’s your journey in becoming an Executive Chairman?
Through an insatiable appetite to understand the underlying features and mechanisms of disease and to try to find therapies, I have travelled a circuitous journey from leading peptide and antibody companies to Oncology and device companies. This path offered a broad and diverse educational experience which I now hope I can share through the CEO and Chairmanship of Biotech and Healthcare businesses.  My CV pasted below should you need an extract.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
During the past 6 years PharmAust (ASX:PAA) identified and developed a drug that could offer benefit to both human and veterinary oncology. The drug in question is a registered product owned by a global major specialising in veterinary products; this drug (MPL) is now being repurposed by PharmAust for applications in oncology and other indications. One of the principal modes of action of the drug is known as the mTOR pathway, a central metabolic pathway in all eukaryotic cells, which therefore enables potential intervention and regulation in many diseases. The repurposing of a known drug allows PharmAust to access substantive manufacturing and toxicology information from its partner with whom it has granted a global option to license the technology. To date, PharmAust has concluded two important evaluations of MPL in canines with cancer and a safety and efficacy evaluation in Man at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. PharmAust’s commercial strategy is to seek commercialisation, marketing and distribution partners for the veterinary and human applications, as the Company validates the technology on a product by product basis. Harnessing the marketing and distribution capabilities as well as the financial muscle of a global major offers a fast track journey to market.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
In these strange times plagued by COVID-19, PharmAust as well as the rest of the Biotechnology industry has had to adapt and comply with guidance and safety measures introduced by governments. Face-to-face meetings have taken on a new meaning with a heavy reliance on communication technology platforms such as Zoom, Google and Microsoft. Once the new routines were embraced by PharmAust the R&D side of the business could proceed with alacrity unhindered. The latter was further made possible because PharmAust sub-contracts its research studies to academic and commercial collaborators and partners. The synthetic medicinal chemistry business, Epichem, has continued to produce reagents and drugs for customers whilst complying with the imposed measures to minimise transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
Progress and successful R&D provides the basis of products that can impact health and wellbeing of Man and animals. What could be more exciting? Of course, success in R&D also brings benefits to shareholders who invest their hard-earned dollars to enable progress.

How do you measure success?
Success has to start with the basics, products need to be safe and effective. In these circumstances’ success milestones would include: partnering and licencing, product approval by regulatory agencies and of course seeing the dollar return on investment.

What do you think is the most important quality of being an Executive Chairman of a listed company?
Communication! A CEO’s ability to communicate an opportunity to investors and shareholders underpins the funding for a biotechnology company. An ability to communicate an opportunity to commercial partners is the basis of establishing Option and Licence agreements. Communication with staff enables sharing of visions for the Company.

What is your favourite book?
That’s a tough one, I have many favourite books from both the Classics and Fiction, however, it is hard to beat the Tolkien trilogy of the Lord of the Rings.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Never give up! Perseverance in your endeavours is the only way to achieve success. The growth in Asia over the next decade is a wonderful opportunity to ride the wave to commercial success.

How can people connect with you?


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