The tiny Australia biotech benefiting from its links to Donald Trump

US President-elect Donald Trump. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Having connections in Donald Trump’s political machine in Washington has been positive so far for a small Australian biotech.

Shares in Innate Immunotherapeutics, whose investors have been revealed as senior Republicans with connections to president-elect Trump, jumped in early trade today.

A short time ago, they were up 4.8% to $1.33, a long way from the 16 cents it was trading at 12 months ago.

Innate Immunotherapeutics is working on a drug technology which uses a patient’s own immune system to combat neuro-degenerative diseases such as Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

According to Kaiser Health News in the US, the biotech sold nearly $1 million in discounted shares to two American congressmen as part of a sale to “sophisticated US investors” last year.

The new service quotes company records and congressional filings for its report.

These show Republican congressman Tom Price of Georgia, who is poised to head the US Health and Human Services Department in the Trump administration, invested in Innate Immunotherapeutics last year.

And representative Chris Collins, a Republican from upstate New York, is on the board of directors for Innate Immunotherapeutics and is a substantial shareholder.

Collins and Price, an orthopedic surgeon, have both been active in shaping health care legislation in the US.

Other Washington players with shares in the company include Michael Hook, Collins’s chief of staff, who is a top shareholder, and Bill Paxon, a Washington lobbyist and former congressman, according to a report in the New York Times.

Two of Collins’s adult children, Caitlin and Cameron, are shareholders.

A spokesman for Collins told the New York Times the congressman followed all ethical guidelines.

“He is very proud of the progress the company has made over the years and hopeful it will be able to develop a potentially lifesaving treatment for the millions of individuals suffering from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis,” the spokesman said.

Collins has about 17% of the company, according to a company presentation.

Innate Immunotherapeutics is a top stock pick for 2017 by the Bioshares newsletter which says the company expects this year to report results from a phase two trial of its drug MIS416.

“Innate has built information on the drug through its compassionate use program over the last eight years, in which around 70% of patients have displayed a significant improvement in their symptoms,” says Bioshares.

There are no drugs approved in the US for the ongoing treatment of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Getting approval for treatment would be an enormous advantage. “This unmet medical need equates to a potential estimated worldwide annual market of $US7 billion or more,” the company says.