Aradigm plague treatment success reported

Researchers from the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory recently reported on the success of Aradigm Corporation's newly developed pneumonic plague therapy.

The report, a preliminary study, showed that a single dose of Aradigm's liposomal ciprofloxacin formulation, known as Lipoquin, was effective at providing protection against a lethal dose of the bacterium Yersinia pestis when given 24 hours after exposure, according to

By comparison, a single dose of ciproflaxin offered no protection against the bacterium when administered within the same timeframe.

Y. pestis, a Gram-negative bacteria, is the causative agent behind the plague, the illness that is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 200 million people in a series of devastating pandemics including the Black Death.

Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the illness and can be contracted by inhaling Y. pestis. If left untreated, pneumonic plague has a death rate nearing 100 percent. There is no licensed vaccine against it for use in humans.

Mice used in the DSTL study were followed 28 days post-exposure. All of the untreated mice died from a systematic infection within three days of being exposed to the bacterium. A portion of the animals were given a single dose of aerosolized Lipoquin delivered into the lungs through the nose at 24 hours after exposure. The rest of the mice were given a dose of ciproflaxin.

DSTL scientists also demonstrated the efficacy of Aradigm's formulation against Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia, and Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of the disease Q fever.

"We are very excited to see that our inhaled liposomal ciprofloxacin has been found to show very promising efficacy against three possible bioterrorism agents, making it potentially a useful broad-spectrum prophylaxis and treatment against such infections," Igor Gona, president and CEO of Aradigm, said, reports.