[Editor’s Note: This article was updated on March 30, 2020, to correct the researcher in charge of the vaccine.]
iBio (NYSEMKT:IBIO) is one of the few stocks up for the year, with a 350% return so far. Keep in mind that the shares had climbed as high as $3.40, but are now at $1.10. IBIO stock is one of those small-cap names that — not too long ago — was mostly forgotten.
But of course, with the horrific impact of the coronavirus from China, things are much different now. IBIO may ultimately play a role in this war.
Founded in 2008, iBio is a plant-based expression biologics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). Essentially, it helps with clinical development of treatments.
The company does this with its FastPharming expression system, which can produce a range of antibodies and antigens for vaccine design and virus-like particles.
The Latest Developments
It was in early February that IBIO stock started its surge. The company announced a collaboration with Beijing CC-Pharming to develop and test a coronavirus vaccine.
And if this effort proves successful, the treatment will be manufactured at scale with iBio’s FastPharming system.
The vaccine candidate is based on the work of iBio’s Dr. Sylvain Marcel.
So what can we expect from all this? Well, as is the case with any new vaccine, it is far from clear. It also does not help that there is not a lot of data available from CC-Pharming. And yes, there are numerous companies, such as AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN) and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), that are focused on finding a vaccine for Covid-19.
Yet the collaboration is a validation of iBio. Let’s face it, given the enormous spread of the coronavirus, there will need to be systems for efficient and quick manufacturing.
Keep in mind that iBio’s technology originally got backing from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is the agency that helped to create the internet and autonomous driving. The goal was to come up with effective approaches to combat pandemics. The result has been the creation of a highly automated factory that uses hydroponics and vertical farming.
This has since been used to create antibody candidates for Ebola and the Dengue fever virus.
iBio has also recently used its FastPharming System for the development of vaccine candidates for preventing infection from the virus that causes the Covid-19 infection. The company also filed four provisional patent applications for this.
The Bottom Line on IBIO Stock
U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a coronavirus vaccine could easily take a year or more. But the timeline could be much shorter in other countries that have lax regulatory requirements.
The widespread impact of the virus will also motivate research. In the coming months, it’s a good bet that we’ll see huge funding go toward drug development for Covid-19.
In other words, a company like iBio will probably get lots of attention. Not many companies specialize in drug development for vaccines.
Granted, IBIO stock will certainly see quite a bit of volatility — and investors need to be cautious. But again, given the extreme need to find solutions right now, I think there’s a good chance the shares will gain over time.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is the author of various books on investing and technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, High-Profit IPO Strategies and All About Short Selling. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.