With the race on to find treatments and possible cures for the coronavirus pandemic, a number of small and mid cap firms have taken up positions in the development chain aiming to fight the virus and alleviate difficulties for both patients and doctors.
Areas in the treatment cycle include diagnostics, drug development, inoculation technology and equipment to help medics treat the illness.
One firm from its efforts in battling coronavirus is Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR), which last week said a clinically validated high throughput format for its coronavirus test could be available in “approximately eight weeks”.
The firm’s 96 SARS-COV-2 test, which can determine whether someone is infected with coronavirus, is freeze dried, which the company said provides it with a “significant logistical advantage for rapid shipment and global distribution”.
Investors have been more than optimistic about the prospects of the test, with Genedrive shares having risen around 233% to 30p since the beginning of March.
The company’s efforts took another step forward last week when it secured a manufacturing agreement for the test with molecular diagnostics group Yourgene Health PLC (LON:YGEN).
Drug developers and inoculators
Moving from diagnostics to treatment, multiple junior biotechs are moving forward with their own potential therapies that could alleviate the symptoms of coronavirus.
The drug, SNG001, is an inhaled formulation of interferon-beta-1a and is currently being developed to treat people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that also have respiratory viral infections such as coronavirus.
Hopes that the treatment will protect COPD sufferers from lung damage resulting from a coronavirus infection have driven the stock 214% higher to 55p over the last month.
Similarly, Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) has surged 37% to 470p on the back of its own interferon-beta treatment, Traumakine, which is intravenously administered and targets acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS, something that has become common among severely ill patients in the current coronavirus outbreak.
An earlier phase III trial missed its endpoints, however, since then Faron has received approval from the US regulator to resubmit Traumakine for a new trial without glucocorticoids.
The company believes this will demonstrate a benefit in people affected by coronavirus and other viral infections.
Meanwhile, N4 Pharma PLC (LON:N4P) shares have gained a new lease of life, rising 83% to 5,8% since that start of March as the group kicks off a proof of concept study which will use a coronavirus DNA plasmid to demonstrate the ability of the firm’s Nuvec delivery system to act as a method of delivering a possible vaccine for the illness.
Away from the treatment spheres, other firms are also benefiting from their technology being used to treat patients currently suffering from the illness until a vaccine can be developed.
In early March, the company said its distribution partner in China, Beijing Gloryway Medical, had=s sold a small number of its monitors in Wuhan, where the virus originated, as a direct result of the epidemic.
Investment firms are also seeing increases in their share prices as their portfolio firms are approached to provide their services during the pandemic.
Intellectual property investor Tekcapital PLC (LON:TEK) has seen its shares rise 31% to 5.9p over the month, partly as a result of its portfolio company Belluscura, which earlier in March filed a patent for a portable oxygen enrichment system to treat patients suffering from respiratory illnesses brought on by infections such as coronavirus.
The firm also said last week that Belluscura could benefit from new guidance issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is aiming to expand the availability of ventilators as well as other respiratory devices during the pandemic.