Published On: Wed, Oct 15th, 2014

Ebola anxiety boosts Protalix again


Smallcap investor network report: An experimental Ebola drug can be produced on Protalix‘s vegetable platform.

Anxiety about the Ebola disease increased again at the end of last week, when a US nurse was diagnosed with the disease – the first indication that the disease has spread to the US. The Seeking Alpha website already has a name for investors trying to cash in on this news: it calls them “Ebola-stoked investors, ” saying that they should take a rest. At any rate, Ebola fever among investors caused an 11% leap in the share of Protalix Biotherapeutics Inc. (NYSE MKT:PLX; TASE: PLX) yesterday, following a report on the Smallcap investor network that ZMapp, an experimental drug for treating Ebola, can be produced on Protalix’s plant cell-based protein expression system. In the past, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, which created the drug, said it was planning to produce the product in living cells, not vegetable cells.

A month ago, Protalix climbed 20% in similar circumstances, and fell back down a few hours later. Prof. Yoseph Shaaltiel, who invented Protalix’s technology, claimed on an Israeli television program that Protalix’s platform was suitable for producing the Ebola drug. The share soared, but then CEO David Aviezer made it clear that this was merely a scientific idea for which no business plans existed as yet. To the best of our knowledge, the company has not devised any new plan for Ebola since then. Protalix rose 7.7% on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) today, and currently has an $222.3 million market cap.


CollPlant mentioned, but weakens

Another Israeli drug development company, CollPlant Holdings Ltd. (TASE: CLPT), was mentioned yesterday by “The Times of Israel” as a candidate for providing a platform for such production. The CollPlant share dropped 4.4% today, however, apparently because Israeli investors had not heard this report, or because they were not so excited about scientific potential in the Ebola field. CollPlant’s current market cap is $12.8 million.

Some US companies are profiting from the disease, such as Lakeland Industries, which manufactures protective equipment against infectious diseases, such as germ-proof suits; iBio, which also has a platform for producing proteins in plant cells; PositiveID, which asserts that it has a method for rapid Ebola diagnosis; and Sanomedica, which is developing a contactless thermometer, in addition to Mapp, which is producing the experimental drug. The market in general is only slightly affected by Ebola anxiety.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – 

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