BioCryst's Ebola drug shows promise in animal study

A transmission electron micrograph shows Ebola virus particles in this undated handout image released by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fredrick, Maryland. REUTERS/USAMRIID/Handout

(Reuters) - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc said its experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drug showed promise against Ebola when tested in monkeys.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is funding the development of the intramuscular formulation of the drug, BCX4430, which is also being tested in an early-stage trial in healthy volunteers.

The main goal of the study was to assess the effectiveness of two doses of BCX4430, against a placebo, on survival through 41 days in Ebola-infected monkeys.

The monkeys were dosed with either 16 mg/kg or 25 mg/kg of BCX4430 or the placebo at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Ten out 12 monkeys treated with the drug survived, including all six given the higher dose. None of the animals given the placebo survived, the company said on Tuesday.

A preliminary analysis also showed a reduction of the viral load in the blood of monkeys receiving the drug. A viral load is a measure of the severity of an active viral infection.

Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp will supply one of its experimental Ebola treatments for clinical studies to be conducted in West Africa next year, it said on Monday.

Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr and Joyjeet Das