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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation: Beyond Ebola

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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NASDAQ:TKMR)’s share price has been highly volatile lately whenever there is any kind of news regarding the Ebola virus and potential outbreaks. However, more and more analysts are pointing out that there is much more to the company than the Ebola drug it is testing.

Analysts at Euro Pacific Canada are the latest to issue a report on the topic.

Looking beyond Ebola

In their report dated Nov. 10, 2014, analyst Douglas Loe and associate Siew Ching Yeo rated Tekmira as a Speculative Buy with a $33.75 per share price target. Their investment thesis is based on the drug maker’s partnership with the U.S. government for the Ebola virus treatment.

However, it isn’t the Ebola drug, per say, that they focus on. They think the alliance with the government will drive approval for biodefense-related drugs apart from Ebola that “transpire in non-strategic geographies.” For now, they do expect Tekmira’s revenue mix to shift toward the Ebola / U.S. government contribution.

Ebola drug hold might not be lifted this year

The drug maker’s management said recently that the hold on their original Ebola treatment might not be lifted this year. They cited two main reasons, with the first being that the Ebola-Guinea version of the drug is more relevant to the outbreak in West Africa. The second is that supply of the original Ebola drug continues to be reduced due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s expanded access trial, thus reducing how much of the drug they have to use for drug trials.

Because of these factors, Euro Pacific analysts think it’s unlikely that the multiple-ascending dose stage of the paused Phase I study might not begin again until the first fiscal quarter of 2015.

The other products in Tekmira’s pipeline

What interests the analysts even more than the Ebola treatment is Tekmira’s siRNA pipeline. Management did say that Phase I and II trials for the polo-like kinase 1-targeted PLK1 drug for patients suffering from neuroendocrine or adrenocortical carcinomas have been finished. That’s in line with Euro Pacific’s expectations that they would be finished by the second half of this year.

So far, there haven’t been any disclosures on this specific program, but management still expects patients to keep receiving treatment and be followed to see if there are any meaningful clinical benefits from using the drug. Also dosing for the first set of patients suffering from hepatocellular carcinoma has been finished and may report by mid-2016.

Tekmira’s hepatitis B drug preclinical stage is still on target for an IND filing by the end of the current fiscal year. The Euro Pacific team expects that this treatment will end up being one of the top drivers of value for Tekmira. Phase 1 testing for the drug is scheduled to begin in the first half of the 2015 fiscal year.

The analysts also like the drug maker’s LNP-siRNA platform, especially the joint venture with Alnylam which released six-month clinical data from the Phase II study for treatment of Familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy.


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