BioCryst completes successful animal trial of filovirus vaccine

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announced on Monday that its BCX4430 vaccine against filoviruses showed activity against a range of pathogens, including the Marburg and Ebola viruses, in an animal study.

BioCryst is developing the vaccine under a contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The contract went into effect in September 2013 at a value of $7.5 million, with a total value of $22 million if all options are exercised.

Filoviruses are extremely deadly and considered Category A Bioterrorism agents by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The fatality rate associated with filovirus disease outbreaks has exceeded 90 percent, the highest fatality rate of any infection.

"Filoviruses, such as Ebola and Marburg virus, constitute serious threats to our national defense," Colonel Erin P. Edgar, the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, said. "Development of cost-effective and versatile treatment options to combat these agents remains an unmet medical need and a high biodefense priority for the U.S. Government."

In the study, researchers tested the investigational vaccine on animal models by injecting the drug intramuscularly 48 hours after exposing rodents to Marburg and Ebola viruses. The researchers also found BCX4430 to be effective against more than 20 RNA viruses, including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, togoviruses, bunyaviruses, arenaviruses, flaviviruses, coronaviruses and paramyxoviruses.

"With its broad-spectrum antiviral activity, attractive drug-like characteristics and demonstrated efficacy against filoviruses, BCX4430 is well-positioned for continued development as a valuable addition to the nation's arsenal of medical countermeasures," BioCryst Chief Medical Officer Dr. William P. Sheridan. "A single broad-spectrum agent that treats a range of RNA virus threats, such as BCX4430, presents an efficient one-drug, multi-bug strategic option against high-priority pathogens for the U.S. Government and offers promise as a treatment for patients infected in natural outbreaks."