An Australian biotech makes condoms that protect against Zika virus, and its shares are rallying

Rafaela Silva dos Santos and her baby Sofia Valentina outside their home in Rio de Janeiro. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Australian biotech Starpharma says the active agent in its VivaGel condoms has been shown in laboratory studies to have potent antiviral activity against the Zika virus.

A short time ago, Starpharma shares were up 6% to $0.695.

The ingredient in Starpharma’s VivaGel condom is astodrimer sodium. Zika is a mosquito-borne virus but it is now also confirmed to be a sexually transmitted infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus outbreak a global emergency, affecting more than 40 countries. The most significant has been reported in Brazil, the host of the 2016 Olympic Games, where an estimated one million people have already been infected.

Starpharma CEO Jackie Fairley says there’s currently no vaccine or therapy available for Zika virus.

“Given sexually transmitted infection is of increasing importance, the potent activity of the VivaGel active against Zika virus could prove very important from a public health standpoint and a significant commercial opportunity,” she says.

The VivaGel condom is marketed in Australia as the Dual Protect condom by Ansell.

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