WHO Declares Zika A Health Emergency of International Concern: 5 Companies Developing Technologies in the Fight against the Epidemic

Feb. 3, 2016 9:22 am

WINDSOR, ON / ACCESSWIRE / February 3, 2016 / The Wealthy Biotech Trader (or "WBT"), an investment newsletter focused on showing everyday investors new opportunities in rapidly growing, little-known, biotech, pharma and medical device stocks making news and subsequent market moves, has researched several stocks on the front lines in the fight against Zika, an epidemic spreading from South America that causes flu-like symptoms but is feared to cause horrible birth defects in babies whose mothers become infected.

COMPANIES MENTIONED: PositiveID Corporation (OTCQB: PSID); Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO); Chimerix, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRX); BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: BCRX); Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON).

Over the past 12 months PositiveID (OTCQB: PSID) has transformed into quite the horizontally integrated powerhouse with complementary businesses ranging from real time pathogen/ biological threat detection testing units (Firefly Dx), to non-contact thermometers (Thermomedics: acquired by PSID December 8th, 2015), to mobile communication and lab vehicles for homeland security and biological testing in the field (E-N-G Mobile Systems: Acquired by PSID December 29th, 2016).

Why PSID is important with regards to protecting the rest of the world from the Zika virus is that just last week their assay testing partner, GenArraytion, announced they have introduced the first commercially available test to identify the Zika virus. It's important to note that PSID has been, and continues to, successfully test for and detect pathogens using many of GenArraytion's assays on the Firefly Dx breadboard prototype system in under 30 minutes.

The real moon shot for PSID would be the completion of R&D and subsequent commercialization of their Firefly Dx unit (Q4 '16 – Q1 '17), which is eccentrically a "lab in hand" device for the real-time PCR industry, estimated to be a $5.6 billion market by 2020. The tiny unit would be able to test anyone or anything for threats from Ebola to Zika to MRSA to C. diff in less than 30 minutes (a lab can take hours to days from sample to result), with lab quality results at a fraction of the cost.

PSID just announced revenue growth of 200% for the first 9 months of 2015 in comparison with the same period in 2014, and PSID appears to be in great shape to grow their two acquired businesses to add similar growth for 2016. This excludes Firefly Dx and the potential with Zika.

Also putting out a code red on WBT's threat detection radar (potential trading profits) is Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO). INO has made a 60% run in 9 trading sessions this week and last on the back of the Zika news.

A lead developer for the company said the vaccine Inovio is helping to create could be ready for emergency use this year, but Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, also provided a bucket of harsh reality, "While these (new) approaches are promising, it is important to understand that we will not have a widely available, safe and effective Zika vaccine this year and probably not even in the next few years."

Looks like this trade should be watched closely--key word being "trade."

Next on the "Zika trade list" is Chimerix, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRX). CMRX was mentioned recently in a newsletter called "Game-changing Stocks" as a well positioned company ready for pandemics and should be watched closely if the Zika epidemic reaches mild pandemic status or the threat's intensity itself increases.

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: BCRX) is a well known name on the Ebola front which has a similar ring to it as Zika. BCRX is working under an impressive potential $26.3 million funding from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). BioCryst's objective is to develop broad-spectrum parenteral and/or oral therapeutics for viruses that pose a threat to health and national security. Any announcement that BCRX is entering the Zika race could move the stock.

Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) is a larger company than the earlier mentioned stocks, but they are attracting some attention from Wall Street analysts for their potential to capture revenues from the Zika epidemic. XON is able to breed male mosquitoes, and deploy them into problem areas such as Brazil, that stop the spread of Zika by passing along a gene to their offspring that makes them die young. Stifel reaffirmed its Buy rating and $69 price target on XON amid the recent Zika epidemic. Thomas Shrader, PhD, CFA, sees the Zika virus as a $200 to $400 million annual opportunity for the company, even with a cautious adoption ramp.

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February 3, 2016 - 9:22 AM EST

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