HONOLULU, March 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, has awarded Hawaii Biotech, Inc., a contract to continue developing drugs to block botulinum toxin, the toxin that causes the life-threatening disease, botulism. There is no therapeutic drug currently available for the treatment of botulism.
The award has a first-year period of performance through early 2014, followed by three option years with a total contract value of approximately $5.5 million.
"This contract, in addition to the $7.4 million grant for an anti-anthrax drug, demonstrates the confidence that Federal agencies have in Hawaii Biotech's ability to develop these drug candidates, as well as our historic commitment to vaccines for tropical and emerging diseases such as West Nile Virus," said Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech. "Hawaii Biotech is now fully engaged in the development of therapeutic drugs to combat infectious diseases that pose potential bioterrorism threats, as well as continuing development of vaccines for infectious agents."
Under the contract, Hawaii Biotech will be working to improve its current anti-botulinum toxin inhibitor drug candidates that have demonstrated activity in pre-clinical testing. The goal will be to enhance the stability, bioavailability and safety of these drug candidates so they can be used in humans.
"We look forward to continuing the productive relationship with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Hawaii Biotech's team to develop countermeasures to bioterrorism threats," said Dr. Sean O'Malley, the principal investigator.
About Hawaii Biotech, Inc. (HBI):
Hawaii Biotech is a privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of prophylactic vaccines for established and emerging infectious diseases and anti-toxin drugs for biological threats. HBI has developed proprietary expertise in the production of recombinant proteins that have application to the manufacture of safe and effective vaccines, diagnostic kits and as research tools. HBI completed successful first-in-human Phase 1 clinical studies with both West Nile virus and dengue vaccines in healthy human subjects. HBI is currently engaged in the development of a product pipeline of recombinant subunit vaccines, including vaccine candidates for West Nile virus, tick-borne flavivirus, malaria, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and discovery of small molecule anti-toxin drugs for anthrax and botulism. HBI, founded in Hawaii in 1982, is headquartered in suburban Honolulu. For more information, please visit: www.hibiotech.com.
About Botulinum Toxin:
Botulinum toxin affects nerve-muscle junctions, preventing the release of neurotransmitters and causing flaccid paralysis. Naturally occurring intoxication can occur through ingestion of contaminated foods, colonization of the gut (infant botulism), or through a wound. While small amounts can be used for beneficial medical purposes (e.g., Botox®), larger quantities of the readily prepared toxin can be used for nefarious purposes. Production of the toxin for weaponization by several countries and terrorist organizations has been documented. Therefore botulinum toxin is one of the most significant bioterror concerns, listed as a Category A biodefense threat agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poisoning food supplies could lead to a mass casualty event causing paralysis and death through respiratory failure in large numbers of victims. Battlefield use of a botulinum toxin aerosol could incapacitate and kill warfighters and support personnel. Terrorist use could lead to casualties in civilians and first responders. For more information, please visit: http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/botulism/
SOURCE Hawaii Biotech, Inc.