PharmAthene receives patent for recombinant bioscavenger

PharmAthene, Inc., announced on Monday that it received a U.S. patent to cover methods for the production of its recombinant butyrlcholinesterase (rBChE) bioscavenger in mammalian cells.

The company is developing rBChE as a pre- and post-exposure therapy for civilian and military victims of nerve agent attacks. Non-clinical studies in animals found that a first-generation rBChE product candidate had potential to provide significant protection against chemical nerve agent poisoning when administered prophylactically. The studies also showed the candidate could increase survival when administered therapeutically.

"Because of its unique ability to neutralize these compounds, we believe that our bioscavenger has a wide range of potential biodefense and commercial applications," John Troyer, the vice president of chemical defense development for PharmAthene, said. "In addition to its application as a nerve agent medical countermeasure, rBChE may also have utility addressing pesticide overdose or certain orphan drug indications such as pseudocholinesterase deficiency, which is a condition that results in increased sensitivity to certain muscle relaxant drugs used during general anesthesia."

Troyer said organophosphorus compounds, including nerve agents, can debilitate the body's nerves, leading to convulsions and deaths in severe cases. BChE is a naturally occurring protein that serves as a natural bioscavenger to absorb toxins like organophosphorus compounds before they cause irreversible neurological damage.

"The use of chemical weapons on the battlefield or among civilians represents a potentially grave concern and there remains a clear need for more efficacious chemical weapons countermeasures," Troyer said. "We believe that, if successful, our rBChE bioscavenger candidate could provide a more cost-effective and flexible solution to protect the U.S. military and citizens from the harmful effects of chemical weapons."

PharmAthene develops next-generation medical countermeasures against biological and chemical threats.