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The Tekmira Ebola Trade May Already Be Over

By: Adam Feuerstein | 08/04/14 - 10:07 AM EDT

Stocks in this article: TKMR

If this CNN story is true, traders playing the Ebola scare by buying Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) picked the wrong horse. Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, a privately held drug company in San Diego, might already have an effective therapy against the deadly virus racing through Africa.

CNN is reporting that the two U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola were treated -- and their lives saved while still in Africa -- with an experimental drug known as ZMapp developed by Mapp Biopharma. The drug had never been tried on humans before but had shown promise in animal studies, CNN reports. 

Here's CNN describing how the two aid workers were treated with the Mapp Biopharma drug:


The ZMapp vials reached the hospital in Liberia where Brantly and Writebol were being treated Thursday morning. Doctors were instructed to allow the vials to thaw naturally without any additional heat. It was expected that it would be eight to 10 hours before the medicine could be given, according to a source familiar with the process.

Brantly asked that Writebol be given the first dose because he was younger and he thought he had a better chance of fighting it, and she agreed. However, as the first vial was still thawing, Brantley's condition took a sudden turn for the worse.

Brantly began to deteriorate and developed labored breathing. He told his doctors, "I am going to die," according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation.

Knowing his dose was still frozen, Brantly asked if he could have Writebol's now-thawed medication. It was brought to his room and administered through an IV. Within an hour of receiving the medication, Brantly's condition was nearly reversed. His breathing improved; the rash over his trunk faded away. One of his doctors described the events as "miraculous."

By the next morning, Brantly was able to take a shower on his own before getting on a specially designed Gulfstream air ambulance jet to be evacuated to the United States.

Writebol also received a vial of the medication. Her response was not as remarkable, according to sources familiar with the treatment. However, doctors on Sunday administered Writebol a second dose of the medication, which resulted in significant improvement. She was stable enough to be evacuated back to the United States and is expected to arrive before noon Tuesday.

One point of clarification for traders looking for the next ebola trade: Mapp Biopharma is not MAP Pharma acquired by Allergan (AGN). Different companies entirely.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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