Analyst touts Chimerix antiviral drug as best bet against Ebola

A Wall Street analyst is touting an experimental antiviral under development by a Durham drugmaker as a strong bet for thwarting an Ebola epidemic.

The continuing positive response to the Chimerix drug pushed the small company’s stock Friday to $30.06, up 6 cents. The shares have soared nearly 100 percent this year.

Piper Jaffray analyst Joshua Schimmer issued a research note Thursday hailing the Chimerix antiviral, brincidofovir, as a “particularly attractive option” for government stockpiling against Ebola and other biological threats. Schimmer also noted that the drug’s safety record, documented in past research, gives brincidofovir an edge against other experimental treatments.

“The cumulative experience with brincidofovir should be sufficient to satisfy requirements on this front, which puts it ahead of the field,” Schimmer wrote.

Chimerix has 75 employees and is developing the drug against smallpox and a wide spectrum of viruses, most recently at federal labs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

A month ago, Chimerix announced that brincidofovir proved effective against Ebola in lab tests at the CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch. The 13-year-old company is next planning to test the antiviral in animals.

Chimerix said it has a large safety database of more than 1,000 people who have taken the drug, and noted that it is being tested on several hundred more patients for potential viral infections. Additionally, the tablets can be kept at room temperature and do not require cold storage.

Since 2011, the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has funded $22.3 million in Chimerix research to develop the drug as a measure against a smallpox bioterror attack or accidental release.

Chimerix, which has no products on the market, raised $118 million in April in a stock offering on the drug’s potential. The drug is not expected to win regulatory approval for public use until late 2016 at the earliest.