BioCryst's antiviral effective in treating Ebola-infected monkeys

Durham drugmaker BioCryst Pharmaceuticals said Tuesday that the company's experimental antiviral has proved effective in treating Ebola-infected monkeys.

Infected monkeys treated with BioCryst's BCX4430 had an 83 percent survival rate, the company said. The recent experiment, a proof-of-concept study, was conducted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The experiment measured survivability at 41 days of rhesus macaque monkeys. The monkeys were injected with BCX4430 within 30 to 120 minutes of the "virus challenge" and received the antiviral for 14 days.

Of six monkeys that received 16 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram) of BCX4430, four survived. All six survived that received 25 mg/kg injections.

BioCryst plans to test BCX4430 on up to 88 human volunteers. It will be tested for safety and tolerability only, not for effectiveness. The human study is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health.

On Monday, the 28-year-old company received federal approval to sell peramivir, its first drug in the United States. The intravenous flu medication will go by the commercial name Rapivab.