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How To Invest in Preventing Bird Flu From Becoming a Pandemic Disaster

Avian influenza, also called bird flu, is a serious public health threat that could become an actual public health problem. The animal outbreaks of bird flu in Asia, Europe, the Near East and Africa are being taken seriously by experts who are concerned that this dangerous virus could mutate into a serious human disease problem. To discover more about the potential magnitude of the problem, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is a good place to go: CDC: Avian Flu Outbreaks.

Human cases have been relatively rare so far, and most scientists believe that existing bird flu strains cannot easily spread directly from one human to another. However, because of the widespread death that could result from a mutated, human-adapted bird flu virus, governments around the world are investing in vaccines and drugs to prevent or stop such an outbreak.

Investors may be able to benefit from this public health concern because a few innovative companies are well along in the process of developing what are sometimes called pandemic flu vaccines.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first U.S. human vaccines for avian influenza in April 2007. The vaccine is made by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., which is a subsidiary of the French drugmaker, Sanofi-Aventis. You can learn more about them by visiting their website: http://www.sanofi-aventis.com. Their stock is traded under the symbol SNY on the New York Stock Exchange. Like most stocks, the price of SNY fell quite a bit during much of 2008, but the company is strong and diversified in world pharmceutical markets.

Another interesting company with sophisticated technology for vaccines against potential pandemic flu strains is iBioPharma Inc., a recently public company allied with the large not-for-profit Fraunhofer Institute. The stock of iBioPharma is traded under the symbol IBPM on the OTC Bulletin Board. This public biotech company was created by a spin-off from an older parent company focused on non-biotech markets. The market value of iBioPharma stock dropped substantially after the spin-off, maybe due to selling by parent company shareholders disinterested in the biotech markets. You can learn more about iBiopharma at their website: http://www.ibiopharma.com .

During the financial meltdowns of 2008, many people converted potentially sound long term investments into cash. This may be a tiny company, but it is worth watching because of it’s longstanding relationship with the respected scientific program of the Fraunhofer Institute, whose work was recently endorsed by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates.

Averting a worldwide pandemic is a noble goal, and as the smart scientists of SNY and IBPM go about their important work, people who like to invest for future profits may have an opportunity to join them in both their medical and financial.

Note: The author of this article does not own any stock in either of the companies mentioned. This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security.

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