Governments Scramble to Develop Ebola Drugs

Governments and drugmakers are scrambling to develop new treatments for the Ebola virus now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has eased restrictions on untested vaccines.

The United States government is putting cash into experimental treatments, and on Tuesday, gave $4.1 million to the drugmaker BioCryst to advance its Ebola drug BCX4430, the company announced Wednesday.

The North Carolina pharmaceutical company in 2013 had received a five-year, $22 million contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop the drug but is now being given extra funding to speed up trials.

“The ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa emphasizes the urgent need for safe and effective antiviral agents for hemorrhagic fever virus diseases. With these additional funds, BioCryst can move forward with important non-human primate efficacy studies, an [investigational new drug] filing, and Phase 1 human trials of intramuscular BCX4430,” said William Sheridan, chief medical officer at BioCryst.

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration recently lifted a partial hold on the drug TKM-Ebola from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals.