As virus spreads, investors bet on potential Ebola cures

Fri Aug 8, 2014 2:43pm EDT
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By Natalie Grover

Aug 8 (Reuters) - Investors are showering attention on drug developers working on a potential treatment for the Ebola virus, even if some of the drugs are a long way from production.

The World Health Organization has declared the West African epidemic a public health emergency, reviving interest in antiviral drugs that could treat Ebola.

Companies such as Tekmira Pharmaceutical Corp , BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc and NanoViricides Inc have drugs that are still in pre-clinical trials, meaning they are yet to be tested in humans.

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc undertook some human trials on its drug, but lost government funding two years ago.

U.S. health regulators on Thursday allowed Canadian drugmaker Tekmira to test a drug in people infected with Ebola, relaxing its stance after blocking human tests last month.

Tekmira's stock jumped 40 percent on Friday, while BioCryst rose 12 percent. Sarepta was up 5 percent and NanoViricides rose 6 percent.

The severity of the current outbreak in Africa, in which around 1,000 people have died, has forced governments to expedite research funding and speed up approvals. Stockpiling drugs could also be a possibility as the virus spreads.

While these companies have other drugs that are closer to being approved, the spotlight for now is on their potential Ebola treatments.   Continued...