Biotech Stock in Spotlight: As the World Awaits Ebola Treatment, Tekmira Pharma In Prime Focus

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The outbreak of the deadly and highly infectious Ebola disease in Africa has already claimed multiple lives. According to media reports many health workers including doctors and nurses have also fallen a prey to the worst outbreak of the disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease first surfaced in 1976. Among other places, it affected the Yambuku village situated close to the river Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). The disease (Ebola-Zaire) has been named after the river.

The viral disease is characterized by symptoms like high fever and internal bleeding, and often proves to be fatal. According to WHO, outbreaks of the Ebola virus disease primarily takes place in remote Central and West African villages located near tropical rainforests. Wild animals are responsible for transmitting the virus to humans. Human-to-human transmission then results in the spread of Ebola in the entire population.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the different sub types of Ebola (Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Reston, Ebola-Ivory Coast and Ebola-Bundibugyo or Ebola-Uganda) are named after the places in which they were discovered. The most contagious and infectious disease in the Ebola family is Ebola-Zaire, the strain of which is present in the Ebola-Uganda and Ebola-Sudan subtypes.

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With the severity of the outbreak increasing each passing day, the FDA declared late last week that it will collaborate with companies to develop treatments to combat the deadly virus. There is currently no approved treatment for the Ebola virus. According to Reuters, the FDA is not averse to proposals that aim to offer treatments to combat Ebola under special emergency new drug applications in the event of the therapy having a favorable benefit-risk profile.

A Canadian company, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp (TKMR), one of the few companies developing treatments for Ebola, gained significantly following the FDA announcement.

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U.S. regulatory body had placed Tekmira’s phase I study (TKM-Ebola) on clinical hold last month due to safety concerns. The company had then expected the matter to be resolved by year-end 2014 following the submission of a complete response. TKM-Ebola was being developed by Tekmira under a contract worth $140 million with the U.S. Department of Defense.

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