Tekmira's Stock Rises Due to Experimental Ebola Drug

By Joel Cuttiford

B.C.-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals saw its shares soar for a second day today as U.S. regulators fast-tracked the company's experimental Ebola drugs.

Shares in Tekmira gained another $4 to trade at $27.52 when the TSX opened this morning.  That is nearly twice what the company was worth on Thursday of last week.

Thursday night, after markets closed, Tekmira revealed that the United States Food and Drug Administration had lowered its "full clinical hold" on the company's experimental drug to a partial hold.

In a press release, the company stated, "We are pleased that the FDA has considered the risk-reward of TKM-Ebola for infected patients. We have been closely watching the Ebola virus outbreak and its consequences, and we are willing to assist with any responsible use of TKM-Ebola. The foresight shown by the FDA removes one potential roadblock to doing so."

The news sent the shares soaring nearly 50 percent on Friday, and the outlook continued today when the markets reopened.

Preclinical studies suggested that when Tekmira's drug, known as TKM-Ebola, was used in previously infected non-human primates, the results showed complete protection from an otherwise fatal dose of Zaire Ebola virus.

This particular strain is the virus is the same that has killed just short of 900 people in central Africa in the past month, marking it the largest recorded death toll since the virus was discovered in 1976.

Tekmira launched a human clinical trial in January, the news of which skyrocketed the company's stock to an all-time high of $33 in March.  But the trial was put on hold in July when some patients experienced troubling immune responses.

The multi-ascending dose portion of the study on healthy patients is still on hold, but the FDA's ruling opens the door to single doses for those already infected.

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