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Tekmira reports on protection against deadly Ebola virus

May 28, 2010 by stephenkilmer 

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKM 1.15 ↑0.00%) (TSX:TKM) has published a series of studies in The Lancet demonstrating the ability of an RNA-interference therapeutic using Tekmira’s SNALP lipid nanoparticle delivery technology to protect non-human primates from Ebola virus, a highly contagious and lethal human infectious disease.

“These very striking data are the first demonstration that RNAi is efficacious in an otherwise lethal primate infectious disease setting,” CEO Dr. Mark Murray said in a statement.  “It is evidence of the profound potency which can be achieved with RNAi in that all of these animals survived what would have been a lethal dose of Ebola virus.”

Dr. Lisa Hensley, Chief Viral Therapeutics, Virology Division of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and one of Tekmira’s collaborators, said that “over the past decade, we have evaluated numerous therapeutic approaches for the treatment of lethal viruses, such as Ebola.  With the exception of siRNA delivered using Tekmira’s SNALP technology, none of them have conferred complete protection to Ebola virus infected nonhuman primates.  We look forward to continuing our work with Tekmira as they advance this promising therapeutic approach.”

The studies were funded in part by the U.S. government’s Transformational Medical Technologies Initiative.  Tekmira is continuing to work with its collaborators in evaluating RNAi therapeutics targeting lethal hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola virus, and has also applied for additional U.S. government funding to continue this work.

Analyst David Dean of Cormark Securities said a business model for a drug against Ebola is most likely to involve the U.S. Human Health Services, which is the agency tasked with stockpiling bio-defense drugs for U.S. citizens.  “Such programs can be very lucrative, but are often very slow to progress as they involve request for proposals and negotiating with government agencies.”  That said, “our confidence in Tekmira’s SNALP and RNAi technology continues to grow.”

Disclosure: No Positions