Sep 5, 2008 (CIDRAP News) SIGA Technologies Inc. announced this week that it has been awarded a $55 million federal contract to develop a new formulation of its experimental smallpox drug, called ST-246, and carry out related efforts.
The company, based in New York City, said it had previously received a $16.5 million contract to develop the drug, described as "a potent, non-toxic inhibitor of orthopoxviruses."
The drug has been tested in an oral formulation so far. The new contract "enables the formulation and advanced development of a new ST-246 parenteral drug product as well as new ways to use the existing oral formulation . . . to combat smallpox," the company reported in a Sep 3 news release.
The contract was awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, both part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the company said.
Dr. Dennis E. Hruby, SIGA's chief scientific officer, said in the news release, "These funds will support all the studies needed to gain regulatory approval for these new indications. Formulation development, animal efficacy, human safety evaluations, and manufacturing are among the activities needed."
SIGA Chief Executive Officer Eric Rose added that the contract "paves the way for ST-246 to provide protection to a much larger portion of the population in the event of a smallpox attack."
In a journal article published in May, SIGA scientists reported that ST-246 performed well in the first test of its safety and activity in humans.
The drug was used, along with other treatments, on an emergency basis last year in a 2-year-old boy who was critically ill with eczema vaccinatum, a form of vaccinia virus infection. The boy, who survived, was infected through exposure to his father, a soldier who had received a smallpox shot. Smallpox vaccine contains vaccinia virus as its active ingredient.
Sep 3 SIGA news release
May 8 CIDRAP News story "Smallpox drug does well in first human safety test"
Mar 19, 2007, CIDRAP News story "Son of vaccinated soldier has severe vaccinia infection"