Jan 5, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – In an effort to expand the pool of antiviral drugs for influenza, the US government yesterday awarded a $102.6 million contract to BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., to develop peramivir, a new neuraminidase inhibitor.The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in a press release, said peramivir has been effective against several influenza strains in laboratory studies. HHS said the contract will cover production of the investigational drug, phase 2 and 3 clinical studies, and validation of manufacturing processes.Research under the contract will include tests involving the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus and may include research on the possible preventive use of the drug, according to HHS. BioCryst officials said the drug has been shown to help animals survive H5N1 infection.”Antivirals are an important element of our pandemic influenza preparedness efforts,” said HHS secretary Mike Leavitt in the press release. “Our antiviral strategy includes not only stockpiling existing antiviral drugs but also seeking out new antiviral medications to further broaden our capabilities to treat and prevent all forms of influenza.”Licensed drugs in the neuraminidase inhibitor class are taken orally (oseltamivir) or by an inhaler (zanamivir). However, peramivir is under development as a parenterally administered drug, meaning it can be given through intramuscular and intravenous routes.HHS said a parenteral neuraminidase inhibitor may be particularly useful in hospital emergency departments for treatment of patients who have life-threatening flu. Parenteral injection could permit rapid buildup of peramivir to high levels throughout the body and allow treatment of people too ill to take medications by mouth, the agency said.In a news release, BioCryst said its laboratory tests have shown that peramivir, an inhibitor of influenza A and B neuraminidases, is more potent than currently available drugs in its class and is active against antiviral-resistant flu strains. The company said high doses of injectable formulations have been safely administered to healthy people, and the drug has been found to promote survival in animals infected with the H5N1 virus.At a BioCryst teleconference that followed the HHS announcement, Charles Bugg, PhD, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the contract allows the company to move peramivir as quickly as possible through clinical development.HHS said awarding the contract to BioCryst is part of a larger initiative to support the development of new treatments and vaccines that would allow the United States to respond quickly to a flu pandemic.Bugg said both the intramuscular and intravenous formulations of peramivir will go through phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. The intramuscular formulation will be tested against a placebo in outpatients, and the intravenous trial will likely test peramivir against oseltamivir in hospitals.Enrollment of patients for the phase 2 trials will begin this flu season in the United States, Canada, and Europe, Bugg said, adding that the company has identified sites in the southern hemisphere that could be used to fill this year’s phase 2 study groups or facilitate an early start on phase 3 studies. He said BioCryst is also identifying sites in Southeast Asia, where flu outbreaks occur year-round, that might be added to the study.Bugg said the HHS contract to develop peramivir is subject to an emergency use authorization that would allow the department to stockpile the drug before approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if clinical data show it to be beneficial.Jonathan Nugent, vice president of corporate communications at BioCryst, told CIDRAP News that the company hasn’t ruled out developing oral or inhalational formulations of peramivir in the future. He said the company couldn’t speculate on how long it might take for the drug to win FDA approval. HHS said the FDA has given peramivir “fast track” status, which would expedite the agency’s review of BioCryst’s application.See also:Jan 4 HHS press releasehttp://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2007pres/01/20070104a.htmlJan 4 BioCryst press releasehttp://investor.shareholder.com/biocryst/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=224367
–By: Citi Sports President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Ben Nunoo Mensah, has called for loads of support from corporate entities in the country for his entity.With a year to go to the 2020 Olympic Games, financing and sponsorship will be very important for the Committee and the Sports Ministry and the National Sports Authority in terms of training of athletes.Nunoo Mensah believes that the wide following of sports programming will give companies a good reach and so, it will be beneficial if they associate with associations.“Let me take this platform and appeal to all sponsors whether they be telcos or beverage companies. I know you put a lot of money into marketing but I would like you to try supporting sports programmes and associations.There are so many media houses that offer sports programmes and you will have the airtime and visibility.There are so many sports journalists who will always mention your products. I am appealing to the top companies and brands to invest more in sports and support the associations and the Ghana Olympic Committee.”He went on to state that through sports, the youth get the chance to use their God-given gifts and strengths to good use and so, if corporate bodies get involved, they will be doing Ghanaian youth a world of good.Nunoo Mensah was speaking at the launch of Blue Giant Energy Drink in Accra on Saturday. The event was attended by several personalities including the Sport Minister, Isaac Asiamah.