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Tekmira Gets DoD Green Light to Test Improved Ebola Drug Formulation

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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals this week announced that its contract with the US Department of Defense to develop an RNAi-based Ebola virus drug has been modified to allow for improvements made to the company’s drug formulation and manufacturing technologies.

The modified contract also boosts the funding Tekmira is receiving for the work.

In 2010, Tekmira received a $34.8 million, three-year contract with the DoD to develop the drug, called TKM-Ebola. The arrangement includes an option that would allow the government agency to fully fund the compound’s development through US Food and Drug Administration approval, which would result in roughly $140 million in funding to the company.

In early 2012, Tekmira advanced TKM-Ebola into phase I testing (GSN 2/9/2012). Later in the year the DoD temporarily halted the contract amid budgetary constraints, although the order was lifted a few months later and the program was resumed.

Since then, Tekmira has made advances with the lipid nanoparticles used with the drug, and asked the DoD to tweak the contract to allow for a new phase I trial that will examine an improved TKM-Ebola formulation.

The DoD has now agreed, and Tekmira said that it expects to ready to seek FDA clearance for a phase I trial with the enhanced drug by mid-year.

Additionally, Tekmira said that the funding it is to receive under the first part of the DoD contract has been increased by $6.9 million, bringing it to $41.7 million.

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