Tekmira shares skyrocket as Ebola outbreak intensifies in Africa

Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:55pm EDT
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By Sayantani Ghosh and Ashutosh Pandey

(Reuters) - Shares of Canada's Tekmira Pharmaceutical Corp TKMR.O TKM.TO, which has ambitions of producing the first treatment for the deadly Ebola virus, have skyrocketed as the worst-ever outbreak of the virus intensified in West Africa.

While human tests of the company's treatment, TKM-Ebola, were put on hold last month due to safety concerns, investors scrambled to buy its stock, sending shares up 1.5 percent to $13 in midday Nasdaq trading, and up more than 50 percent over the past fortnight.

"The recent outbreak in West Africa is as profound as any we have seen in recent decades," said Euro Pacific Canada analyst Douglas Loe.

"We have solid pre-clinical evidence showing that TKM-Ebola is effective at eradicating Ebola symptoms, giving us confidence that its development activities could resume," he said.

The outbreak forced Sierra Leone to declare a state of emergency and call in troops to quarantine victims on Thursday. The country joined neighbor Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll in West Africa moved past 700.

Indeed, the outbreak is outpacing efforts to control it, but could be stopped, World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said on Friday.

Ebola belongs to a family of viruses that can cause serious hemorrhagic fevers. There have been dozens of deadly outbreaks of the virus across West Africa, threatening people as well as endangered gorilla populations.

The recent outbreak, which has caused with 729 deaths in four different countries since February, is the worst since the disease was discovered in the mid-1970s.   Continued...