San Diego Biotech Lands Up To $42 Million For Ebola Drug Development
A U.S. health agency has awarded San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical new funding to speed up work on an experimental Ebola drug.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday a $24.9 million contract aiming to help Mapp accelerate development and testing of ZMapp over the next 18 months. The contract could be extended to a total of $42.3 million.
"As part of the project funded today, Mapp Biopharmaceutical will manufacture a small amount of the drug for early stage clinical safety studies and nonclinical studies needed to demonstrate the drug’s safety and efficacy in people," according to an HHS statement.
ZMapp was provided to seven patients in West Africa's ongoing Ebola outbreak. Two recipients died, but others have recovered. More positive signs were published in a study last week in which 100 percent of primates given ZMapp beat Ebola, even when treated five days after being infected with the virus.
U.S. Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie said in the statement:
While ZMapp has received a lot of attention, it is one of several treatments under development for Ebola, and we still have very limited data on its safety and efficacy. Developing drugs and vaccines to protect against Ebola as a biological threat has been a long-term goal of the U.S. government, and today’s agreement represents an important step forward.
Mapp has said their supplies of the drug are exhausted currently, and that making more could take months.