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Ebola-related investment opportunities highs and lows

By Dian Vujovich

Ebola. The deadly virus everyone is talking about carries the same name as the river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the outbreak of the virus was first identified in the 1970s. Originally known as Zaire River, the river’s name was changed after the virus had spread to dozens of villages situated along the river’s banks. Just as Ebola’s beginnings were remote, so are the odds of a quick remedy to control, cure, quell or eliminate the virus.

One seemingly inhuman reality about finding an Ebola fix centers around two things–interest and money. Even though more than 8,000 have already contracted the virus and about half have died from it, most victims have been those living in remote parts of Africa. Until this past week,that is. Two individuals in the U.S. have now come down with the virus. One has died and another is now suffering with it.

Without a huge outcry from citizens to find a remedy of any sort, the virus that has killed—and has the potential to kill—tens of thousands of people, there’s not likely to be much seriously active interest from government and pharmaceutical companies to get on the stick and find a viable pill, shot or medicine to control this virus. After all, it took over 50 years and who knows how much money before an effective polio vaccine was available. Medicines for HIV/AIDES virus took about half as long. While waiting, thousands upon thousands of people died.

And now we have Ebola. A disease that when a person has contracted it, is likely to spread it to 1.5 to 2 other individuals, according to NPRs “Shot: Health News from NPR”. HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C have higher contagious rates—2 to 4 people may get it from 1 infected person.

Over the past 38 years, (1976 through 1214), containment has been the way health officials have elected to control the Ebola virus. Given that strategy hasn’t worked well, and because the virus has made its way into the U.S., interest in finding a remedy has been stirred.

But finding a quick fix isn’t likely as quick isn’t a word in the FDAs drug approval vocabulary. Typically it can take a decade or more— and billions of dollars–for a new drug, vaccine, pill, etc. to make it from a company’s research department to your local pharmacy.

That said, with any disease disaster comes investment opportunities. And there has been movement in the per share prices of pharmaceutical companies focused on treating the Ebola virus. Two familiar names are Chimerix (CMRX) and Tekmirea (TKMR). Chimerix (CMRX) opened this morning (10/13/14) at $32.71, its 52-week price range, range $12.96 to $35.98.Tekmirea opened at $23.80, with a 52-week range of $7.17 to $31.48, according to YahooFinance.com.

Earlier this month, InvestorsBusiness Daily, investors.com. pointed out these Ebola-related companies : BioCryst, (BCRX), has an Ebola medication in its pipeline that hasn’t been tried on humans and needs more testing opened at $10.49 with a 52-week price range of $4.55 to $14.62.

Two others include NewLink Genetics (NLNK). It has an experimental Ebola vaccine approved for Phase 1 clinical trials and opened at $18.65 with a 52-week price range of $16.00 to $53.48.

For the under $1 per share stock seeker, Hemispherx Biopharam (HEB) is a company that collaborates with other companies and was priced 0.38 cents when the market opened. Over the 52-weeks its price has ranged from 19 to 55 cents

One firm that enjoye a strong opening today was Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, (ALNY). The Department of Defense has awarded it millions to find a treatment for Ebola. Its 52-week per share price range–$47.03 to $112.57.

Ask me the companies I see that could be winners in containing this disease—and other diseases likely to come along in the future— are the manufacturers of protective gowns, gloves, face shields, masks and hazmat suits. Lakeland Industries (LAKE) is one such company. It opened this morning at $22.40, has traded as low as $4.75 a share and as high as $24.25.

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