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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Cure for Smallpox: SIGA Technologies

SIGA Technologies (SIGA) is going to be up huge today, and it may already be up 100%. Before today, SIGA has had a market capof only $54 million and only trades about 230,000 shares per day. Over the last 5 years SIGA has traded up around $3.00, and back in 2000 it ran from about $1.50 to $9.00. Its shares had also already doubled in the last month or so.

The company announced that announced today that its lead drug, SIGA-246, is the first drug ever to demonstrate 100% protection against human smallpox virus in a primate trial conducted at the CDC. SIGA-246 protected cynomolgus monkeys from smallpox disease following intravenous high dosing with smallpox virus. The drug prevented symptoms of disease whether delivered at the same time as the virus or 24 hours later, so this is more of a cure rather than a vaccine. SIGA-246 completely prevented lesion formation and reduced viral load to non-threatening levels in treated animals with no obvious toxicity.

Here are the details of the study: The study was conducted under rigorous bio-safety and -security conditions at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for Smallpox and Other Poxvirus Infections' BSL-4 laboratory located at the CDC in Atlanta and was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency under the supervision of Dr. John Huggins, Chief of the Viral Therapeutics Branch, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

"We are particularly pleased," said Dr. Dennis E. Hruby, Chief Scientific Officer of SIGA, "because the amount of virus used in this study is equivalent to the level present in late-stage disease in humans, which we believe signals that SIGA-246 can be used to prevent disease in humans even several days after initial viral exposure." He added, "This test in non-human primates is as close as anyone can get to the real thing because there has not been any natural occurrence of smallpox since 1977."
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