TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp.,, whose shares have soared in the past fortnight on hopes for its Ebola therapy, said its drug was not used to treat two U.S. aid workers who were recently infected, a Canadian news agency reported.
Tekmira hopes to produce the first treatment for the deadly virus, which has killed more than 700 people in West Africa since February, and there had been speculation its therapy was given to American missionary Nancy Writebol and another aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly.
Writebol and Brantly, who work for U.S.-based Christian relief groups SIM and Samaritan’s Purse, were both infected in Liberia. Brantly is being treated at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Tekmira’s therapy, TKM-Ebola, was not given to either of the aid workers “or anyone else infected in the current outbreak, and has not been given to anyone outside of our Phase I trials,” Canadian Press cited Tekmira as saying in an email.
The company, whose shares have soared more than 50 percent on the Nasdaq over the past few weeks, was not immediately available for comment on Monday, a public holiday in Canada.
Tekmira, which specializes in the field of gene silencing that is also known as RNA interference, started an early-stage clinical trial for the treatment in January and was granted fast-track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 5.
Human tests of the treatment were put on hold last month due to safety concerns.
Ebola belongs to a family of viruses that can cause serious hemorrhagic fevers. The recent outbreak is the worst since the disease was discovered in the mid-1970s.
Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Bernadette Baum