From the Jerusalem Post.
BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd., an Israeli developer of intra-nasal flu vaccines, soared the most on record in Tel Aviv trading on Monday as the swine-flu outbreak spread.
BiondVax surged 211 percent, the most since shares began trading in 2007, to NIS 1.06. NasVax Ltd., which also develops flu vaccines, rose as much as 150% to NIS 2, before closing 1.3% higher at NIS 0.81 after the company said it wasn’t planning to develop a swine-flu vaccine.
Mexico’s toll of flu-related deaths exceeded 100, while Spain reported its first case of swine influenza and Asian countries screened travelers for symptoms of the virus. Two people are in hospital in Israel on suspicion of swine flu.
“Swine-flu concerns have spilled over into the local market and health-care stocks are outperforming,” Michelle Spivak, a trader at Clal Finance Brokerage Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said Monday.
Health-care stocks were the only gainers among the MSCI Emerging Markets Index’s 10 industry groups Monday. Biota Holdings Ltd., which earns royalties from sales of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s flu drug Relenza, soared 82% in Sydney trading, the most since 1987. Yuhan Corp., the South Korean drugmaker chosen in 2006 to supply Roche Holding AG with an ingredient for antiviral drug Tamiflu, climbed 15%.
Israeli health-care companies advanced as much as 25% on Monday, with gains in shares of D. Medical Industries Ltd., which develops medical equipment for diabetes, Biomedix Incubator Ltd. and TopSpin Medical Inc.
Israeli biotechnology shares have surged as much as 473% this year after Johnson & Johnson’s buyout of a medical-equipment maker ignited takeover speculation and the government pledged money for research. Overseas regulatory approvals for products and positive test results also pushed shares higher.
NasVax is developing vaccines for preventing several types of flu as well as alternative methods of administration such as a nasal spray. The company’s technology for improving vaccines is based on research by professors Eli Kedar and Yehezkel Barenholz, the co-inventor of a cancer treatment marketed in the US by Johnson & Johnson.
“We have had some success in testing a flu vaccine on animal subjects and are looking to go ahead to human trials,” Barenholz, Nasvax co-founder and head of its scientific advisory board, said Monday from Sao Paulo in a telephone interview.
At this stage, the company doesn’t have plans to develop a vaccine for swine flu, the Ness Ziona-based company said Monday in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.