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BioCryst's Ebola Candidate Moving to Efficacy Study Soon

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BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX) announced that it will start evaluating the efficacy of its Ebola candidate BCX4430 in a non-human primate study within a few weeks. Shares of the company reacted positively to the news.

To that end, the company received additional funding worth $2.4 million from the National Institutes of Health’s (:NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (:NIAID). Following NIAID’s decision, the value of the five-year contract on BCX4430, granted in Sep 2013, has risen to $24.4 million. We appreciate the NIAID decision to grant additional funds to BioCryst for furthering Ebola related studies as the disease has assumed epidemic proportions ever since its outbreak in West Africa earlier this year.

With no approved treatment for the dreaded virus, which has been declared as an international public health emergency by the WHO, many other companies such as Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) and privately held Mapp Biopharmaceutical are developing treatments to combat the disease. Ebola is characterized by symptoms like high fever and internal bleeding.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is also striving to come up with a cure for the disease. Glaxo’s anti-Ebola experimental vaccine candidate will be fast-tracked into human studies. Glaxo is developing the vaccine with NIAID.

According to media reports, researchers in Japan have devised a method to detect the presence of the virus in half an hour. We expect investor focus to remain on Ebola related updates going forward.

BioCryst carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in the health care space is Gilead Sciences (GILD), which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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