The DoD awarded separate contracts to Morphotek for its mAb program and AVI BioPharma for development of its antisense drug totalling $4.96 million.
Morphotek received a $2.3 million funding approval to support the development of mAb therapies against biowarfare agents.
The proceeds, which will be received by Morphotek over the next nine months, will be used to further develop mAbs targeting Botulinum neurotoxins (BNTs), highly toxic biowarfare agents. The company reports that is has already designed multiple mAbs that are able to bind and neutralize the toxic effects elicited by BNTs.
These programs are a collaborative effort between Morphotek and scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.
AVI BioPharma obtained a $2.66 million backing for development of a therapeutic Neugene® antisense drug targeting dengue virus infections. This is the fourth contract AVI has received related to a DoD $11 million allocation for defense-related development of therapeutic antisense drugs. Under the four agreements, AVI anticipates receiving up to $9.8 million net of government administrative costs.
“Taken as a whole, the research funded by these four contracts is meant to improve our national biodefense preparedness,” notes Alan P. Timmins, president and COO of AVI. “In addition, the research will increase our collective understanding of and potential response options to deadly viruses that still occur naturally outside the U.S. Previous studies have shown that Neugene® antisense therapeutics may be a viable approach to treating victims exposed to these potentially lethal viruses and toxins.”