HHS enters contract for novel biowarfare antibiotic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently entered a contract with CUBRC, Inc., to aid in the development of a novel antibiotic to be used to treat the effects of biological warfare agents such as anthrax and plague.

The $11.4 million contract will be managed by the HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. CURBC will work in partnership with Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, according to YadkinRipple.com.

The contract is scheduled for one year, but can be extended to a total of five years with a potential value of $67.2 million.

The drug, known as TP-434, is a member of the tetracycline class of antibiotics, which is currently used primarily to treat intra-abdominal infections. Early indications are that TP-434 can be effective against bacteria resistant to an increasing number of antibiotics, including other tetracyclines already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The funding will support the testing of TP-434 in both clinical and animal studies and in the development of an efficient manufacturing process. Both oral and intravenous forms of the drug are being explored.

"Protecting the nation against biological threats requires a wide variety of countermeasures, and we've found that an efficient way to develop such countermeasures is to focus on products that have both commercial and biodefense uses," BARDA Director Robin Robinson said, YadkinRipple.com reports. "This approach was recommended by the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise Review which the Secretary released in 2010, and supporting the development of TP-434 reflects our ongoing commitment to multi-purpose products and the expansion of our antimicrobial portfolio for national preparedness."