U.S. awards contract to develop anthrax anti-toxin

The U.S. government recently awarded its first contract for the development of an anthrax anti-toxin for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis.

Elusys Therpeutics, Inc., of New Jersey received the five year, $68.9 million contract to support a series of animal efficacy and human safety studies, according to UPI.

The anti-toxin, known as Anthim, is being developed to prevent anthrax disease and death related to exposure to anthrax before symptoms of the illness are apparent. It has been successful in increasing the survival rate of anthrax-infected animals and shows promise as a candidate to treat anthrax in humans.

There are benefits to administering the anti-toxin through intramuscular injection. Large numbers of people can be treated outside hospitals and administration of Anthim will not require specially trained medical personnel, intravenous bags, sterile mixing or other intravenous preparations.

"Many more people can quickly receive prophylactic treatment against anthrax infection using intramuscular administration, particularly in an emergency setting before symptoms are present," Elizabeth Posillico, Elusys' president and chief executive officer, said, UPI reports. "In several animal studies conducted to date, ETI-204 has demonstrated excellent efficacy and increased survival significantly when given in a single intramuscular dose."

Elusys said that when the development program is completed to the satisfaction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the anti-toxin can be considered for inclusion in the Strategic National Stockpile.

The funding comes on top of a separate, $143 million contract issued by the U.S. government to Elusys for the development of Anthim for symptomatic patients.