Durham drug developer BioCryst Pharmaceuticals said Friday it received an additional $2.4 million to test an experimental antiviral as a treatment for the Ebola virus. The study on primates "is expected to be initiated within weeks," the company said.
The award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases raises the total value of BioCryst's development contract to $24.4 million as the U.S. government intensifies its quest to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The BioCryst contract was awarded last year to study treatments for Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, but has since been expanded to include Ebola research in the wake of the recent outbreak that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.
BioCryst is a 24-year-old company that employes 40 people and doesn't have a drug on the U.S. market.
BioCryst is developing the drug, called BCX4430, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases to protect the U.S. population against a natural epidemic or a bioterror attack.