It’s been a little over twelve months since we last covered GeoVax Labs Inc (OTCMKTS:GOVX) and, from a market capitalization perspective, the company hasn’t done too much in the way of movement.
Last August (the time of our previous coverage) GeoVax shares went for around $0.07 a piece.
Right now, the company is available for $0.06. That’s a small dip, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing too severe.
This week, however, the company has started to pick up a bit of speculative attention. Volume spiked on Monday to more than 6 million shares (as compares to a three month daily average of a couple of hundred thousand shares changing hands) and the company’s share price spiked in line with the added volume (at the end of last week, GeoVax went for around $0.004).
So what’s driving the action and what can we expect going forward?
Let’s take a look.
This company is a biotechnology stock that’s trying to bring various treatments to market in the viral infection space. Specifically, it’s got two primary targets – HIV and Zika. The latter was a bit of a buzz word last year (in and around our coverage) and we think that this translated to management highlighting its development stage Zika asset with a little more weight than might have been warranted by its advance through the company’s development pipeline, but that’s not uncommon at this end of the market and we’re not going to let it impact our impression of the team that’s in charge – if you can put out a hot-topic press release and draw some much needed speculative volume towards your float, why not?
Anyway, with Zika no longer making headlines it’s the HIV asset that is really what’s important here and it’s the progress of this asset along its own development pathway that’s going to get this company moving long term.
And it’s this asset that’s driving the recent revaluation.
At the end of last week, GeoVax put out this press release detailing the results of a study of the asset in question. The study was preclinical and it was conducted in non-human primates (so, it’s a monkey study) but this far from negates the implications of the data.
As per the news, the company has been able to show that its candidate can achieve successful elicitation of a key precursor to broadly neutralizing antibody for the HIV CD4 binding site. This CD4 binding site is a sort of Holy Grail in the HIV space. For more than three decades, scientists have tried to figure out how to harness it to attack the HIV virus but – due to various complications with shedding – haven’t been able to effectively. That is, potentially, until now.
The data was published in the open access journal PLOS ONE and is available here for anyone that wants to take a look.
So what does this mean?
Well, treating HIV is tough because the current antivirals only work in certain patients and for a limited amount of time. The idea behind a CD4 type drug is that it can be used to target the vast majority of this patient population and therein lies the potential for market share if and when one hits markets. That GeoVax has been able to show that its asset can potentially meet this goal is a major event for a company, especially one of this size and at this end of the market.
It’s preclinical, sure, but in these sorts of viral indications there’s not the same degree of difference between non-human primates and humans as there is in a disease like cancer, for example, so animal-model efficacy can often be a strong indicator of future success.
Don’t get too excited, of course. While it’s big news, there’s a long way to go before it gets into the clinic, never mind on shelves. With that said, however, for GeoVax and its shareholders, progress towards these aims, even limited progress, is more than enough to get the stock running.
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Image courtesy of NIAID via Flickr
Disclosure: We have no position in GOVX and have not been compensated for this article.