AVI BioPharma has received expanded contract funding of approximately $11.5 million from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's (DTRA) Transformational Medical Technologies Initiative (TMTI). The money will support development of an IND application for AVI-7012 in the treatment of Junin virus infection.
To date the DoD has reportedly commissioned AVI for work potentially worth up to $45.4 million. The contracts cover development of the company’s RNA-based drug candidates to treat Ebola, Marburg, and Junin virus infections (AVI-6002, AVI-6003, and AVI-7012, respectively).
The current funding is a second amendment and expansion of the original contract from DTRA, which was awarded in November 2006 for $28 million and has been fully authorized. The first amendment was issued in May with an additional $5.9 million.
AVI-6002, AVI-6003, and AVI-7012 are novel analogs based on AVI's PMO antisense chemistry in which antiviral potency is enhanced by the addition of positively charged components to the morpholino oligomer backbone.
“AVI has recently been able to confirm the impressive and dose-related survival of drug-treated nonhuman primates in large dose titration studies for Ebola and Marburg virus infections, which were carried out in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases,” according to Patrick Iverson, svp for strategic alliances at AVI. “Importantly, these studies allowed us to unequivocally demonstrate the sequence-specific nature of the protection afforded by our drug candidates.”
AVI has received a “safe to proceed” allowance from the FDA for Phase I trials with its Ebola and Marburg candidates. These INDs represent the first TMTI-supported compounds targeting bioterrorism agents to receive FDA IND allowance, according to the firm.