XOMA awarded contract to develop botulism antitoxins

XOMA Ltd. has been awarded a new contract for up to $28 million over five years to develop broad-spectrum antitoxins for the treatment of human botulism poisoning.
XOMA has entered into four contracts with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, totaling approximately $120 million, to advance biodefense-related product development. The botulinum toxin is one of the most toxic poisons and is classified as a Class A bioterror threat by the U.S. government.
"The success of our prior NIAID contracts for anti-botulism antibody products to Types A, B, and E toxins demonstrates the utility of XOMA's antibody development platform for biodefense applications," Patrick J. Scannon, XOMA's executive vice president and chief scientific officer, said. "It provides a strong foundation for this new contract which will expand our efforts to include Type C and Type D antitoxins."
The first product candidate XOMA developed through NIAID contract, XOMA 3AB, is an antibody co-mixture for Type A botulism poisoning. It is currently in an NIAID-sponsored Phase 1 clinical trial.

The company's botulism antitoxin programs are based on over a decade of biomedical research conducted in the laboratory of Dr. James D. Marks, a professor of anesthesia at the University of California - San Francisco, and on their extensive technical expertise and platform technologies in the antibody field.
"There is a critical need for new treatments for botulism poisoning which offer both broad subtype coverage and more convenient administration, especially in emergency settings," Scannon said. "The goal of our anti-botulism program is to develop, with funding from NIAID, safer and more effective therapeutics suitable for strategic federal stockpiling."
Botulism is a neurotoxin made by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum that can cause muscle paralysis and can eventually lead to death.

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