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Protalix Shares Rise and Fall on False Ebola Cure Reports


Shares of the Israeli biotech firm Protalix went on a bumpy up and down ride on Sunday due to the misunderstanding that a report about the company’s abilities meant that it was already producing a cure for the Ebola virus.

Unless you live in a cave then you must already know about the recent Ebola outbreaks in Africa and the worldwide paranoia over the dreaded disease possibly spreading.

Protalix is a biopharmaceutical company that specializes in the development and manufacturing of recombinant therapeutic proteins through its ProCellEx plant cell-based protein expression system.

The company’s shares surged 18% after a report on Israel’s Channel Two news Saturday night erroneously stated that Protalix’s facility in northern Israel could mass produce a serum for Ebola called ZMapp that is developed from antibodies found in tobacco.

But on Sunday the firm’s CEO, Dr. David Aviezer, told Reuters that it has no arrangement in place as of yet to cooperate with ZMapp manufacture Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc “In theory, we probably could also produce the antibody used for treating Ebola in our plant cell system, ” he said. “Based on our technology and their technology we believe this can be done. We have to receive the DNA sequence of the antibody, which is a proprietary asset. It does not belong to us. We would insert it into our plant cells and then purify the antibody protein that would be made in these cells.”

The problem is that the vaccine is patent protected and while it is true that Protalix is capable of mass producing the drug quickly, it would first need the permission of the World Health Organization to do so.

Aviezer also said that, “We have no information about the drug, no connection with the manufacturers. We also have no genetic information about the drug or the rights to use it.”

As a result, Protalix’s stock fell back down to only 0.3% above where it had been before the story first broke. The company’s stock is down more than 80% since January 2013.

In other Protalix news, Yossi Maimon, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, will present at the Rodman & Renshaw 16th Annual Global Investment Conference on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM, Eastern Time. The conference will be held at the New York Palace Hotel in New York City on September 8-10, 2014.

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