Shares of Burnaby-based Tekmira (TSX:TKM, NASDAQ:TKMR) are up today after the company late yesterday announced it has started limited GMP manufacture of a new therapeutic that specifically targets the Ebola-Guinea variant, the viral variant responsible for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
The company says the product should be available by December.
In August, the FDA had verbally confirmed it had modified the full clinical hold placed on its TKM-Ebola treatment, in light of the worst outbreak of the disease ever. The World Health Organization estimates that the death toll in in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is now 4,546.
Tekmira, which was founded in 2005, is one of a handful of companies in the world developing therapies based on RNA interference. RNA interference is a process that cells use to silence the activity of specific genes. The process works by blocking the molecular messengers of a a cell, rendering the cell useless. RNAi has already shown great potential with viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Tekmira has three internal RNA interference product candidates; one to treat hypercholesterolemia, or elevated cholesterol, one for Ebola, and an anti-tumour drug in the treatment of cancer.
“The ability to rapidly and accurately match the evolving genetic sequences of emerging infectious agents is one of the powerful features of RNAi therapeutics,” said the company in a press release today.
At press time, shares of Tekmira were up 8.3% to $21.85.