Written by James West
China’s latest export is a new coronavirus that has clinicians at a loss for treatment, and that has brought a light to shine on a few emerging bio-tech plays who are finding that increasing incidence of new diseases is good business.
With news of another death from the 2019-nCoV, as it is now called over the weekend, the number of known infections has risen to over 300 and spread to South Korea and Japan.Predictably, Chinese drug makers who are focus on vaccine development saw their shares rise substantially, as they continue to do as we speak.YiChang HEC Changjiang Pharmaceutical Co., (HKG:1558) , China’s dominant producer of the drug known as oseltamivir, (sold under the brand name Tamiflu) saw shares jump by 20 percent in the last 5 sessions, and may rise incrementally as the number of cases and deaths from 2019-nCoV continue to rise.
Oseltamivir, which can help quickly alleviate flu symptoms in patients, is is an antiviral medication used to treat and prevent influenza A and influenza B.
Many medical organizations recommend it in people who have complications or are at high risk of complications within 48 hours of first symptoms of infection.Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies Co Ltd (SHA: 688399) which trades on the Shanghai exchange in China, a company that develops influenza virus kits and rapid test kits, rallied 20% to the maximum level allowed on the exchange’s six-month-old Science and Technology Innovation Board.Closer to home, Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) is a a company fast tracking a solution to the 2019-nCoV virus, and its shares have surged as a result.
Using proprietary recombinant nanoparticle vaccine technology, the goal is to produce vaccine candidates quickly in response to both known and emerging disease threats.NanoViricides Inc (NYSEAMERICAN: NNVC) is a company focused on antiviral drugs based on “nanomachines”, which it describes as ” designed to specifically attack enveloped virus particles and to dismantle them”.
While currently developing shingles and herpes remedies, it is also in development of drug candidates for the treatment of Dengue viruses, Ebola/Marburg viruses, Japanese Encephalitis, viruses causing viral Conjunctivitis (a disease of the eye) and Ocular Herpes.
They hold exclusive licenses for developing drugs against several different viruses from TheraCour Pharma, a private US company, including HSV-1 and HSV-2.
In addition, we and TheraCour have signed a Memorandum of understanding of the terms of a license for VZV (Shingles, Chicken pox virus) from TheraCour.Ebola Treatments: Unlocking the Secrets
Chimerix ( CMRX ), whose antiviral brincidifovir was used to treat the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. Duncan died in early October, but the company has since ensured BCV is designed to improve treatment of viral infections by enhancing drug delivery to the intracellular site of viral replication.
BCV effectively penetrates cells via its lipid conjugate, releasing the nucleotide analog cidofovir, which then acts to inhibit virus replication.Tekmira’s ( TKMR ) TKM-Ebola has also been used in the field and has gained a $140 million contract with the Department of Defense, with the first human study planned to start next year.Ebola and 2019-nCOv remain as substantial threats with no proven treatments, and whose sudden spread are of paramount concern for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, and the World Health Organization.
Investors who keep abreast of developments of the companies who are developing vaccines and drugs to treat these persistent threats will do well as we embark on this third decade of the 21st century.