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U.S. Firm to Prepare Biodefense Drugs

U.S. Firm to Prepare Biodefense Drugs

The U.S. Defense Department has issued three contracts to an Oregon biopharmaceutical firm for production of drugs that could provide protection for victims of bioterrorism, the company announced yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 18, 2005).

AVI BioPharma is set to receive a total of $7.1 million under the Pentagon contracts, which were funded through a 2006 budget allocation. The contracts provide $2.66 million for development of treatments for Ebola virus infection, another $2.66 million for Marburg virus drugs, and $1.78 million for treatments to counter anthrax and ricin infection.

The drugs would involve “antisense compounds,” which the company describes as “synthetic polymers that mirror a critical portion of a disease-causing organism’s genetic code, which bind to specific portions of the target genetic sequence.

“Like a key in a lock, NeuGene compounds are designed to match up perfectly with a specific gene or pathogen sequence, blocking the function of the target gene or pathogen,” the company said (AVI BioPharma, May 7).