The Department of Defense (DoD) is soliciting proposals for small molecule drug candidates for treatment of or prevention against alphavirus-induced encephalitis.
Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEEV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV), and Western Equine Encephalitis Virus (WEEV) are zoonotic mosquito-borne viruses that infect both equines and humans, and potentially cause significant morbidity and mortality. Since these viruses pose a serious threat to human health and are considered potential biological weapons, an urgent need exists under the Joint Chemical and Biological Defense Program for effective therapeutics against these agents.
In 1961, the U.S. Army developed a live-attenuated vaccine (TC-83) against VEEV; in 1974, the Army developed a formalin-inactivated form (C-84). TC-83 is used under Investigational New Drug (IND) status to immunize at-risk laboratory personnel. However, the vaccine has several limitations: approximately 23% of vaccinated people develop flu-like symptoms; an additional 18% do not respond to the vaccine and need a boost with C-84. Furthermore, current medical measures might not effectively address non-biological routes of exposure or genetic modifications.
The ultimate goal of the program is to rapidly deliver qualified small molecule inhibitors against at least one alphavirus. The program will be administered in stages starting with small animal studies through non-human primate safety and pharmacokinetic studies and into a Phase I clinical trial. Due to the complex and unprecedented nature of small molecule drug discovery and development against this class of viruses, the government encourages team arrangements as appropriate.
The effort is newly listed as Rapid Innovation Topic Number: CBO-ALPHA-01 under existing Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Broad Agency Announcement HDTRA1-12-CHEM-BIO-BAA.