Recently, AVI BioPharma, Inc. (AVII) disclosed encouraging preclinical data from two studies which evaluated the efficacy of its influenza candidate AVI-7100. The candidate is being developed under a contract awarded to the company through the US Department of Defense’s Transformational Medical Technologies (TMT) program in June 2010. The contract provides for up to $18 million to advance the development of the candidate.
The preclinical studies, conducted on ferrets, revealed that the company’s potential treatment for the H1N1 virus (swine flu) significantly reduced viral concentration in the upper respiratory regions when compared with a saline control and Roche’s (RHHBY) Tamiflu. The company intends to present final data from the studies later in the year.
The preclinical studies utilized AVI BioPharma’s proprietary phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) plus technology. The trials were conducted in association with the TMT program to identify ribo nucleic acid (RNA) based candidates capable of fighting against the dreaded virus.
The World Health Organization declared the H1N1 influenza as a pandemic in June 2009. The virus was first detected in the US in April 2009. The resultant illness ranged from mild to severe with symptoms like fever, cough, running nose, headache, chills and fatigue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that up to 89 million people were affected by the virus in the US between April 2009 and April 2010. Furthermore, there were up to 403,000 H1N1-related hospitalizations in the US during the same time period according to the data released by the agency.
AVI BioPharma, founded in 1980 and headquartered in Bothell, Washington, currently has a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. We are also Neutral on the stock in the long term. Our Neutral stance indicates that the stock is expected to perform in line with the US equity market over the next 6+ months. We advise investors to retain the stock over the time period.