BioCryst Pharmaceuticals ( BCRX) said the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease agreed to test the company's investigational hepatitis C polymerase inhibitors against SARS and West Nile virus.

The pact gave a big boost to the small biotech company's stock, which rose 77 cents, or 27%, to $3.64. That put BioCryst at a 52-week high.

Volume was extremely heavy. With about 90 minutes left in the trading day, more than 800,000 BioCryst shares had traded. The company's average daily volume is about 47,000 shares.

BioCryst said its hepatitis C polymerase inhibitors are already being tested on the Ebola virus, through an agreement the company reached with the Army Medical Research Institute last year.

Testing of BioCryst's compounds against the SARS and West Nile viruses will be coordinated through Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Ala.