Tekmira Experimental Ebola Drug Used to Treat Stricken U.S. Doctor

Updated from Sept. 22 at 7:48 pm ET with additional news about Tekmira and its experimental ebola therapy. Correction: Dirk Haussecker does not own Tekmira shares, as previously reported in error.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ebola patient Dr. Rick Sacra received treatment with Tekmira Pharmaceuticals' (TKMR) experimental ebola therapy TKM-Ebola for seven days, Nebraska Medical Center confirmed in a statement Monday night. 

Monday's announcement confirms speculation bandied around Twitter and stock message boards about Tekmira's involvement in the treatment of Sacra, who was stricken with Ebola while treating patients in West Africa. Before Monday, doctors treating Sacra would only say that his care included an experimental therapy without disclosing its name. Sacra was also treated with serum derived from the blood of Dr. Kent Brantly, another Ebola survivor. 

While expressing gratitude for the availability of Tekmira's TKM-Ebola, Nebraska Medical Center warned against drawing conclusions about which therapy (or therapies) assisted in Sacra's recovery from Ebola.

"We need to carefully assess all the treatments being provided to patients with the Ebola virus," Dr. Angela Hewlett, associate medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said in a statement. "We don't know if it was Dr. Sacra's own immune system, the supportive therapy we provided, the blood transfusion from Dr. Brantly, TKM-Ebola or a combination off all these factors that helped Dr. Sacra recover. What's important is that we pool all of our treatment resources and continue to study what is most effective in treating the virus."

Nonetheless, Dirk Haussecker, an RNAi therapeutics consultant, investor, blogger and tweeter, wasn't in the mood to ratchet down his excitement. In a blost post titled TKM-Ebola Making RNAi History," Haussecker proclaimed, "I am more or less convinced that RNAi Therapeutics is saving patient lives for the first time." 

Tekmira shares closed Monday up 17% to $23.61 after issuing an 8-K in which the company acknowledged for the first time that TKM-Ebola was used to treat Ebola patients and that the experimental therapy had been cleared for further use by U.S. regulators. The 8-K, filed before the markets opened Monday, did not mention Sacra. 

Update: Tekmira is joining an international consortium planning clinical studies of experimental Ebola therapies in West Africa, the company announced Tuesday. Tekmira plans to develop an RNAi-based therapy targeting the specific variant of the Ebola virus responsible for the current outbreak in West Africa. The decision to test this new therapy in clinical trials will be made by the consortium, which includes representatives from the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC), the World Health Organization (WHO), US Centers for Disease Control, Medecins Sans Frontieres -- Doctors without Borders (MSF) and others. Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) and Mapp Biopharmaceuticals are also contributed experimental ebola drugs to the consortium. 

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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