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Old 10-05-2005, 01:33 AM   #11
**jdazmum**
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Who's ready to take more anthrax? News to know.

U.S. Awards Grants to Develop New Anthrax Vaccine

The U.S. National Institutes of Health yesterday awarded a $4.6 million grant to LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals to continue development of a new anthrax vaccine, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Aug. 22).

The Montana company plans to use the funding to prepare the vaccine for testing on humans, said Robert Goodwin, LigoCyte chief operating officer and executive vice president.

“We've developed the product candidate and the NIH has come on board and said ‘this is something we would like to see get qualified for human trials,’” he said.

These trials usually take five to 10 years. “But because this deals with biodefense, there may be ways to shorten that,” Goodwin added.

Goodwin said the grant is “fairly large by NIH standards” and shows the government’s interests in improving on existing vaccines.

Unlike existing vaccines that must be injected, LigoCyte is working on a dry powder vaccine that would be inhaled and pass through nasal membranes, according to AP.

Initial animal tests have shown effectiveness after only one dose, the company said. The vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration requires six shots (Associated Press/Billings Gazette, Oct. 3).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department has awarded Canadian biotech company Cangene a contract worth $400,000 to provide samples of its inhalation anthrax treatment, the Washington Post reported today.

The treatment will be tested for possible use in the national stockpile

The Cangene contract was in addition to a $1.8 million contract awarded yesterday to Human Genome Sciences for its proposed anthrax drug. Both contracts contain an option to purchase up to 100,000 doses under Project Bioshield, the Post reported (see GSN, Oct. 3; Washington Post, Oct. 4).

Elsewhere, Elusys Therapeutics is expected to begin clinical trials of its new anthrax drug in the coming weeks, according to a report on DrugResearcher.com.

The drug, called Anthim, targets the protective antigen of anthrax, stunting the agent’s ability to form toxins. Early studies have shown that the drug is effective in lower doses than other drugs being developed. A single dose has shown to be 100-percent effective if given before exposure to the agent and increases survival rates if given within two days of exposure.

This low dose will allow the drug to be administered intramuscularly, the most effective route in emergencies, according to DrugResearcher.com (Wai Lang Chu, DrugResearcher.com, Oct. 4).

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Acambis Submits Proposal to Make Smallpox Vaccine

The U.S. government has received a plan from British drug maker Acambis for production of a weakened smallpox vaccine, AFX News reported today (see GSN, Aug. 16).

The Health and Human Services Department in August began taking bids for the vaccine, which would be produced for the U.S. national stockpile. Acambis, which is developing the vaccine with Baxter Healthcare, is competing with Bavarian Nordic for the $1.9 billion contract, according to AFX.

The U.S. government said the contract would likely be awarded in February. The weaker vaccine, known as MVA3000, is being developed for people who cannot take the full-strength shot due to suppressed immune systems or skin diseases such as eczema.

The vaccine must be clinically tested up to and including licensure for the treatment, which has not yet received regulatory approval. The United States has an option to purchase another 60 million doses of the vaccine (AFX News/Forbes.com, Oct. 4).

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U.S. Grants Money for Bio Labs, Tularemia Vaccine

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases yesterday announced $87 million in grants for the construction of Biosafety Level 3 laboratories (see GSN, Sept. 9).

The agency has also issued two five-year contracts totaling approximately $60 million for development of a tularemia vaccine, according to a press release.

“Devising medical countermeasures against biological threats, whether they arise naturally or are the result of deliberate human action, is a top priority for NIAID,” said Director Anthony Fauci in the release. “These new awards support research needed to better understand and defend against disease-causing microbes and provide funds to construct facilities where such research can be performed safely.”

The four laboratories will join nine others in the NIAID-funded Regional Biocontainment Laboratory Program. Grants are being distributed between George Mason University in Virginia, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the University of Louisville in Kentucky and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The tularemia contracts were awarded to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and DVC, LLC in Frederick, Md. While the bacteria can usually be treated with antibiotics, experts fear that if aerosolized, tularemia could cause widespread illnesses and possibly death, according to the release (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases release, Oct. 3).



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