BioLineRx: Tuesday's Hot Hep C Drug Stock

Updated with current stock price.

JERUSALEM ( TheStreet) -- A tiny Israeli drug maker that few investors have ever heard of announces a licensing deal Tuesday with a French company similarly unknown, but the deal involves an oral hepatitis C pill so shares of the Israeli company doubling in value.

Just another day inside Wall Street's ever-expanding hepatitis C bubble.

BioLineRx ( BLRX) shares are up $3.45, or 104%, to $6.75 after announcing the licensing deal for hepatitis C drug BL-8020, developed by the privately held French firm Genoscience. Almost 5 million BioLineRx shares have traded hands Tuesday already, blowing away the stock's average daily volume of a miniscule 3,600 shares.

Terms of the BioLineRx-Genoscience deal were not disclosed.

Little is known about BL-8020, which is still in preclinical testing, meaning the drug hasn't yet been studied in humans. But with all of Wall Street looking for the next hot hepatitis C drug stock, the mere mention of a potentially new oral therapy for the viral liver disease was enough to make BioLineRx the hot speculative biotech trade for Tuesday morning, fueled by a robust Twitter buzz.

BL-8020 may belong to the class of direct-acting antiviral agents known as protease inhibitors, according to an overview of the drug discovery research in hepatitis C noted on Genoscience's web site. Both Vertex Pharmaceuticals' ( VRTX) Incivek and Merck's ( MRK) Victrelis are both protease inhibitors and most of the other big Hep C players, including Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), Gilead Sciences ( GILD), Abbott ( ABT) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), already have protease inhibitors in development.

Achillion Pharmaceuticals ( ACHN) is also developing a protease inhibitor and has been seeking a partner for the drug or a suitor to buy the entire company.

If you missed Tuesday's BioLineRx move, the next Hep C-related stock action could come early next month when Bristol-Myers Squibb is expected to close out its $2.5 billion tender offer for Inhibitex ( INHX). Around the same time, Inhibitex (or Bristol) is expected to announce early data from a phase II study of INX-189, the company's lead hepatitis C drug candidate.

Investors are also waiting for Idenix Pharmaceuticals ( IDIX) to announce the FDA's decision on lifting a clinical hold on IDX184, which will allow the company to push the hepatitis C drug into additional clinical studies. Or perhaps, clear the way for Idenix to be acquired.

If you liked this article you might like

BioLineRx (BLRX) Stock Soars on Liver Drug Licensing Agreement

7 Stocks Under $10 to Trade for Big Profits

7 Stocks Under $10 Making Big Moves

BioLineRx (BLRX) Stock Down on Negative Heart Disease Treatment Results

Bioline RX (BLRX) Stock Gains on Positive Test Results, Coverage Initiation