The Wellcome Trust announced it has awarded 3.2 million pounds ($5.25 million) in grant funding to a consortium led by Dr. Peter Horby in a bid to fast-track multiple clinical trials for experimental Ebola drugs in Africa.
Included in this consortium are Mapp Pharmaceuticals, Sarepta, and Tekmira. Mapp and Tekmira made headlines recently when their drugs were used to treat a small number of Ebola infected patients with apparent success. Tekmira in particular has been of particular investor interest- the company’s market cap has swelled to over $550 million largely on interest in its Ebola drug.
In a press release, Tekmira says RNAi has been prioritized as an investigational therapeutic; it is the only one of the three using RNAi technology. “We are gratified that RNAi has been prioritized as a potential investigational therapeutic to assist in the ongoing public health and humanitarian crisis in Africa,” said Dr. Murray, Tekmira’s President and CEO.
Companies were selected by a WHO appointed expert panel based on factors including highest likelihood of working, availability, providing safety, and ability for scale-up. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has claimed 2,800 lives so far according to WHO. The organization fears over 20,000 people could be affected before it is brought under control.
Author is Long SRPT