U.K. researchers report on efficacy of pneumonic plague drug

Scientists with the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory recently found in a preliminary study that a single dose of Aradigm Corporation's Lipoquin provided full protection in a murine model of pneumonic plague.

In the study, the researchers administered a lethal dose of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes pneumonic plague, to mice and found that Lipoquin gave the animals full protection when given 24 hours after exposure. In comparison, a dose of oral ciprofloxacin given to another group after 24 hours gave no protection.

Lipoquin is Aradigm's liposomal ciprofloxacin formulation. Researchers previously showed the efficacy of Lipoquin against Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that causes tularemia, and Coxiella burnetii, the bacterium that causes 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 Gonda, the president and CEO of Aradigm, said. "We continue to seek opportunities for additional funding for this type of work via collaborations with government agencies with the view that our liposomal ciprofloxacin may be approved under FDA and similar overseas regulations relating to new drugs or biologics for potentially fatal diseases where human studies cannot be conducted ethically or practically."

Inhalation of Y. pestis can lead to pneumonic plague, which can have a mortality rate of 100 percent if untreated. There is currently no licensed human vaccine.