One of the handful of biotechs competing for attention in WA's resource-heavy investment market is bulking up with a promising treatment for one of the world's deadliest cancers.

NeuroDiscovery has struck a deal to buy Enigma Therapeutics, a British firm targeting a treatment for pancreatic cancer under licence from the WA-founded pSivida.

Oncosil has already completed four human clinical trials with encouraging results and could progress to European manufacturing approvals as early as this year.

Under yesterday's agreement, Enigma's owners, including new NeuroDiscovery chairman and former Mayne Pharma chief executive Roger Aston, will swap the business for 75 million shares.

In support of the deal, Neuro- Discovery yesterday bedded down a $1.5 million equity raising at 2.5¢ a share through Forrest Capital, the founders of which have a long history with pSivida.

NeuroDiscovery executive director David McAuliffe said Oncosil represented a rare opportunity.

"In Australia, you don't want to be in early stage research, you need to be in clinical trials," Mr McAuliffe said, referring to the dearth of investment support for biotechs.

"It's a great opportunity for a small company like us to get a product which has already been through some clinical trials and then to raise some money to put it back in that environment," he said. "We have the confidence to manufacture it, deal with the regulators and find the patients (for trials)."

Oncosil involves the injection of a radioisotope directly into the tumour.

The trials to date have shown promising results in increasing patient survival times and reducing the pain associated with pancreatic cancer.

On completion of the sale, NeuroDiscovery's founders, board and management will control about 50 per cent of the company.

The company shares rose 0.9¢ to 3.8¢ on yesterday's announcement.

The West Australian

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