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An obscure biotech stock skyrockets 38% after saying it's testing a coronavirus antibody (VIR)

Published by Business Insider on Tue, 28 Jan 2020

Shares of Vir Biotechnology skyrocketed as much as 38% Monday as China's coronavirus spread.The gains are a continuation from a rally that started Thursday, when the company announced it is testing "whether its previously identified anti-coronavirus monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) bind and neutralize 2019-nCoV," the Wuhan virus.The company is also planning to utilize "whole genome CRISPR-based screening capabilities" to help identify the host receptor of the coronavirus infection."We don't know yet if these efforts will be successful, but we are working aggressively to find out," said George Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Vir in a statement.Watch Vir Biotechnology trade live on Markets Insider.Read more on Business Insider.Shares of Vir Biotechnology, a little-known clinical-stage immunology company, surged as much as 38% Monday as fears of a global coronavirus outbreak mounted.The Monday gains for the company, which has a market value of about $2.8 billion, are a continuation of a rally that began a week prior. On Thursday, the company surged as much as 15% in early trading following an announcement that Vir is "working to rapidly determine whether its previously identified anti-coronavirus monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) bind and neutralize 2019-nCoV, also referred to as 'Wuhan coronavirus.'"Some of the mAbs are able to help neutralize other strains of coronaviruses, leading Vir to believe that they "may have the potential to treat and prevent Wuhan coronavirus," Herbert "Skip" Virgin, M.D., PhD, Vir's chief scientific officer, said in a press release.Vir's team of scientists are also planning to apply "whole genome CRISPR-based screening capabilities" to identify the host receptor that allows the infection, in the hopes that it will help address the "rapidly emerging public health concern.""We appreciate the threat this pathogen presents, and are utilizing our technologies to determine whether we currently have, or can identify, therapies to neutralize this virus," Vir CEO George Scangos, Ph.D., said in a statement. "We don't know yet if these efforts will be successful, but we are working aggressively to find out."Investor interest in biotechs that are working on vaccines, treatments, or cures for the Wuhan coronavirus surged Monday as the disease spread further across the globe. So far, the virus has killed 81 and infected more than 2,800 peoplein China, other countries in Asia, the US, Canada, France, and Australia.Overall, global stocks have fallen as reports of the virus' spreading mount. In particular, airlines, hotels, and cruise lines have been hit as the virus curbed travel during the popular Lunar New Year holiday in Asia. Oil has also continued to slip on fears that the coronavirus will hurt fuel demand.Vir Biotechnologies has gained 59% year-to-date, through Friday's close.Join the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption
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