Tekmira And J&J’s Ebola Drugs Advance Towards Deployment In West Africa

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) and European drug developer Bavarian Nordic (BAVA.CO) are receiving significant attention in early trading on Wednesday morning with announcements that their two distinct approaches to Ebola, a therapeutic and vaccine respectively, are advancing.

On October 21 after the bell, Tekmira announced that it has commenced the limited GMP manufacturing of a new TKM-Ebola therapeutic (TKM-EbolaGuinea) specifically targeting the Ebola-Guinea variant, the strain responsible for the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Tekmira has stated supply of this therapeutic will be available in early December 2014 for use by various collaborators and will provide updates as definitive agreements for supply/use of this therapeutic are established. In addition, Tekmira stated it plans to continue to provide TKM-EbolaZaire, the company’s existing RNAi therapeutic, to infected patients under the proper regulatory framework and expects the partial clinical hold on this program will be resolved by the end of the current quarter.

Meanwhile, Bavarian Nordic A/S (BAVA.CO) (BVNRY) announced overnight on the 21st a license and supply agreement for its MVA-BN Filovirus vaccine candidate with Crucell Holland, a segment of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). A combination of Bavarian’s Filovirus vaccine and J&J’s AdVac technology demonstrated complete protection against Ebola recently in preclinical studies. J&J plans to move into the clinic early next year, and expects to have 250,000 doses ready to be released for broad application in clinical trials by May of 2015.

Bavarian Nordic has granted J&J an exclusive license for the vaccine, which is expected to protect against Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, and Marburg, in exchange for an upfront payment of $25 million, up to $20 million in development and regulatory milestones. In addition, Bavarian Nordic will scale up production with a target of more than 1 million doses of the vaccine worth $99.3 million, for which J&J will make an upfront payment of $70.8 million. J&J also made a $43 million investment in Bavarian Nordic stock.

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