Monday, September 1, 2014

9-1-2014 TKMR NVAX

Two biotech's today, one short and one long candidate.

A little background info and a few links to relevant information first.

 Tekmira has an Ebola drug, that was put on clinical hold due to causing cytokine storm in healthy volunteers. It is effective at stopping Ebola virus in monkies, but only if administered within 48 hours of infection. After this latest Ebola outbreak, the FDA "partially lifted" their hold to allow for treatment of infected individuals. I'm not sure what the FDA is thinking here, really. The drug is useless in a patient that already has symptoms, apparently - and potentially dangerous. Whereas Z-mapp has already shown effective assistance in preventing death in patients already showing symptoms. There's an interesting article on Z-mapp, and I believe the unnamed drug in the article is Tekmira's.  Here is the relevant quote "Some other experimental drugs have shown the ability to protect monkeys from Ebola if given shortly after infection, up to about two days. That might make such a drug useful for what is called postexposure prophylaxis — for example, after a person is stuck by an infected needle.". Here is the NY Times article.

Novavax is a small biotech with no products currently on the market, but they have a very interesting vaccine development platform, that IMO has the potential to take vaccination development out of the stone ages(you know, using eggs, human diploid cell cultures, nasty adjuvants out the wazoo). Their approach involves synthesizing virus-like particles and proteins through an insect cell line. From a biological standpoint, I think that an insect cell cultured vaccine makes much more sense than a human diploid cell culture or monkey cell culture, right from the start. No-one else to my knowledge is even trying to revolutionize the approach to vaccine development, so I'm cheering for them from a personal perspective as well. Here is a seeking alpha article with more in-depth information on them.

On another note, I am looking for strong upward movement in US indices coming out of the holiday weekend, going into the ECB meeting.

Here is an excellent quote, from Mark Chandler, on what the expectations of that meeting are:
"The ECB meeting is the most significant event this week. Draghi all but pre-committed the ECB to action by acknowledging the disturbing decline in inflation expectations. In the past, he said that this would trigger an official response. The key issue is what action will be announced. There has been much speculation that the ECB will announce an ABS purchase program. We think the risk of this is very low for both practical and political reasons. They might be moving quickly toward an ABS purchases, but there was much ground to cover, including regulatory issues, that have yet to be addressed, it seems."