HHS funds drug to prevent cytokine storms

Courtesy of the Dept. of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently signed an agreement to fund development of the drug AB103, which is expected to combat cytokine storms within the body.

Development of AB103 will be supported by an 18-month contract worth $4.4 million, with Israeli biotechnology company Atox Bio. The contract may be extended for three additional years for a total potential investment of $23.9 million.

Cytokines are chemicals that regulate the body’s inflammatory and immune responses. AB103 is expected to regulate the response of cytokines to avoid an overreaction and surge of these chemicals. A cytokine surge often complicates recovery and leads to organ shutdown. 

AB103 does not suppress the immune response and protects against lethal infections of a wide range of bacterial pathogens in experimental models. Developers believe that resistance may not be an issue because the drug targets the immune system, not the bacteria.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will oversee development of AB103.

“Novel, host directed therapies like AB103 that target the immune system can help us address unmet medical needs such as necrotizing fasciitis, a severe skin and soft tissue infection,” BARDA Director Robin Robinson said. “AB103 illustrates one of several approaches that BARDA is supporting as part of President Obama’s new initiative to combat antimicrobial resistance.”

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 200 Independence Avenue Southwest Washington, DC 20201

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