The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded Hawaii Biotech, Inc. a grant to continue the development of countermeasures against deadly anthrax.
With the new funding, the Hawaii Biotech team will continue screening potent anti-toxin small molecules to block the action of lethal factor, the protease component of lethal toxin produced by Bacillus anthracis. The grant will support the improvement of current lethal factor inhibitors, which have demonstrated efficacy in animal models of post exposure inhalation of anthrax, as drug candidates. The safety, stability and bioavailability of these candidates will be improved with the goal of use in humans as an antidote to anthrax lethal factor intoxication.
The award has a first-year value of $1.1 million. The grant for the full five-year period equals $7.4 million.
“Research and development of vaccines and treatments to protect against infectious diseases will help keep our families and communities healthy and safe,” Senator Brian Schatz said. “Hawaii Biotech is doing important work to find vaccines for some of the biggest global health threats, like anthrax, and this grant will help give them the resources they need. Achieving this competitive grant highlights Hawaii’s continued growth in the high-level research and development community.”
“Our team is pleased to be able to continue our anti-toxin development work at Hawaii Biotech, where we started this program several years ago,” said Dr. Alan Johnson, the principal investigator. Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech, added, “This NIAID grant allows Hawaii Biotech to build our drug development capabilities to match our strong vaccine development franchise. In doing so, we hope to help protect the public against biological agents that might be used in an act of bioterrorism.”