About Phoenix Eagle
Phoenix Eagle Company Pty Ltd is a private company founded in 2002, based in Perth, Australia. We are a biopharmaceutical company developing disruptive technologies for the global wound healing and skin care markets. Our core asset is our proprietary intellectual property coupled with a core technology, the OPAL Process, which enhances the inherent therapeutic properties of the papaya plant. This gives rise to OPAL Extracts, which are currently being investigated for use in multiple therapeutic settings. These settings include:
- Wound debridement
- Anti-biofilm properties
- Infections of the respiratory tract
- Virucidal activities (SARS-CoV2 virus)
Our purpose is to develop and commercialise our core technology and any enhancements, improvements or compositions created by application of these processes.
The Core Technology: OPAL A
The technology has been in development since 2002. The original Extract, OPAL A, is an extract from the fruit of the Carica papaya plant. A family of cysteine proteases is one of several active ingredients in OPAL A.
These enzymes are well known for their proteolytic activity, that is their ability to break down proteins into smaller molecules. Our scientific research has focused in part on the role and mechanism of action of this family of cysteine proteases.
The proteolytic enzymes of the Carica papaya fruit – collectively designated ‘papain’ – have historically been extracted for use in many industrial processes, including as meat tenderisers. Papain has been used clinically for debridement of necrotic tissue in chronic wounds. These enzymes are obtained from latex, a complex milky emulsion produced by many plants in response to tissue injury. In papaya, latex is only found in the skins of the unripe fruit. The emergence of latex allergy or sensitivity has halted the public use of latex-related products – including ‘latex-papain’ – in many jurisdictions; however, these allergies are associated with other components of the latex, and not the proteolytic enzymes themselves. There are no chemical entities in OPAL A that cause latex related allergies.
OPAL A has significantly greater debriding power than commercial papain, as demonstrated through an in vitro assay developed by Healthpoint Ltd (a Smith+Nephew company). In addition, since OPAL A is not extracted from the latex in the skin of the unripe fruit, it has the added advantage of not containing any of the protease inhibitors present in the latex.
Developing the Core Technology: OPAL B and OPAL K
During the last 10 years, different formulations of the OPAL Extracts have been the subject of in vitro studies in London, UK. The original OPAL A formulation serves as a springboard for development work and is protected by granted patents in all major global jurisdictions. There are two more advanced formulations, namely OPAL B and OPAL K; these new OPAL Extracts are novel compositions created by a chemical modification of the papaya fruit different from the OPAL A manufacturing process and are the subject of a patent application filed in 2019. The inventors of these processes and compositions and named as such in the patent application are Emeritus Professor Keith Brocklehurst, Dr Giuseppe Trigiante and Mark Richardson.
The OPAL B and OPAL K Extracts have significantly increased proteolytic activity compared with OPAL A and have been developed from studies investigating variations of the OPAL Process.
“Remarkable and unexpected” – Professor Keith Brocklehurst
The key findings from research experiments on the OPAL B Extract were described in an email to Phoenix Eagle as “remarkable and unexpected” by Professor Brocklehurst. Keith was a leading global expert in the study of the structure and properties of papain over the last 45 years until his passing earlier this year.
Further patent applications: OPAL B & OPAL K
The OPAL B and OPAL K Extracts further extend the originality of our core technology. These Extracts include a novel protein not present in OPAL A and a novel small molecule. To date Phoenix Eagle has provided OPAL K Extract for the successful treatment of two people with serious conditions that will lead to two future patent applications for New Medical Use after more evidence to support such medical uses has been obtained. The remarkable outcomes for these two people were:
- significant improvement in a dying person’s condition in addition to debridement of a severe pressure ulcer
- healing of a rare and serious skin condition
An additional experiment is currently being conducted to further characterise the novel protein; the experimental results and conclusions which will be included in an amended specification to be filed as a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application in December 2020.
It is intended that an appropriate patent application will be filed to protect the novel small molecule that has been identified in the OPAL B and OPAL K Extracts.
The Trigiante Process
There has long been a major unmet need in the development and clinical use of enzymatic debriding agents, namely that the currently commercially available agents rapidly lose their debriding activity when prepared into ready-for-use formulations.
Dr Trigiante has developed a process that overcomes this problem, aptly named The Trigiante Process.
The Trigiante Process significantly prolongs the debriding properties of the proteolytic enzymes of papaya and pineapple in aqueous solution. The Trigiante Process is the subject of a PCT application that was filed in October 2020. The Australian Patent Office has advised that the process and the compositions created by the process are novel, non-obvious and have industrial applicability.
Continuing into the future
We will continue to develop our exciting intellectual property and continue to improve our offering of novel uses for the OPAL Extracts. There are two recent collaborations and a scientific breakthrough to be aware of:
US Naval Medical Research Unit
We have recently commenced a research alliance with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit – San Antonio (NAMRU-SA) focusing on the management of infections in wounds and in particular the formation of biofilms in new wounds. The program of work is still to be defined and developed. Whilst this is being finalised, the team at NAMRU-SA will repeat the key Trigiante Process experiment using Sigma-Aldrich papain.
Fiona Wood Foundation
We are about to enter a collaborative research program with the Fiona Wood Foundation. The aim of this collaboration is to compare the OPAL K Extract with existing technologies and techniques in the removal of eschar from thermal burns prior to skin-grafting or other skin repair treatments in an appropriately designed clinical trial.
Disablement of SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) Virus
Two preliminary experiments conducted in London, the second on the “live” COVID-19 virus, have shown that the new OPAL Extracts are able to disable the virus. A third experiment will commence later this month on the “live” virus at University College London.
A patent application for the use of the new OPAL Extracts to disable the COVID-19 virus will be filed after the filing of the PCT application in December of the manufacturing processes and compositions of the new OPAL Extracts.
Russell FD, Windegger T, Hamilton KD and Cheetham NWH. Effect of the novel wound healing agent, OPAL A on leukotriene B4 production in human neutrophils and 5-lipoxygenase activity. Wound Prac Res 2011;19(4):200–203.
Baldwin C, Bonham S. Treatment of a sacral pressure ulcer and extensive hyperkeratosis with OPAL A filtrate and cream: A case study. Wound Prac Res 2011;19:196.
Mitchell GK. Clinical observations supporting a vasodilatory effect of the modified papaya extract OPAL001. Wound Prac Res 2011;19(4):190–195.
If you want to find out more about the different activities from Phoenix Eagle, please follow this link through to our website.