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BARDA Supports Development of Drugs to Protect Against Radiation

Posted Feb 15 2011 12:01am

New contracts fund drugs for skin and lung injuries associated with acute radiation exposure

Two contracts for advanced development of drugs to treat skin and lung injuries associated with acute radiation syndrome (ARS) were awarded this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). These contracts are the first by BARDA to address the skin and lung injuries that arise from acute exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation – the type of radiation that results from a nuclear blast.

The contracts were awarded to Aeolus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mission Viejo, Calif., and U.S. Biotest Inc., of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and support research studies and manufacturing efforts by each company in developing their respective drugs.   

The Aeolus contract is valued at $10.4 million for the first year and can be extended for a total of five years and up to a total of $118.4 million. Aeolus is developing a broad-spectrum antioxidant drug known as AEOL 10150. This drug was designed originally to reduce the damage caused by radiation during cancer treatments. For BARDA, the drug will be developed for use in treating lung injuries associated with acute radiation syndrome, known as pulmonary acute radiation syndrome or lung-ARS.

The U.S. Biotest contract is valued at $4.5 million for the first 16 months and could be extended for a total of five years and up to a total of $14 million. The contract with U.S. Biotest supports advanced development of DSC127, a drug applied to the skin to help body tissue heal after being exposed to ionizing radiation.  

These contracts are part of the HHS radiological and nuclear threats preparedness strategy. In addition to these contracts, BARDA has awarded contracts to develop medical countermeasures to treat neutropenia, an abnormally low number of white blood cells, as well as contracts to develop drugs that bind radioactive materials in the body and for biodosimetry devices. These devices measure an individual’s level of radiation exposure after a nuclear incident. Information on these contracts is available at www.medicalcountermeasures.gov .

The contracts are also consistent with Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise Review, released by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in August 2010. The review called for a focus on multi-use products with applications in public health and bio-preparedness. For more information about the findings and recommendations of the review, visit http://www.phe.gov/preparedness/mcm/enterprisereview/Pages/default.aspx .

BARDA, an agency within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing infrastructure for medical countermeasures. Medical countermeasures include vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.phe.gov or www.medicalcountermeasures.gov .

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