March 31, 2015 / 11:30 AM / 4 years ago

BioCryst wins US contract to continue Ebola drug development

(Reuters) - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc said it won a U.S. government contract to continue development of its potential treatment for Ebola and other viral diseases.

The 18-month contract includes a base value of $12.1 million to support manufacturing and up to $22.9 million in conditional funding.

BioCryst’s shares rose 8 percent to $9.06 in premarket trading on Tuesday.

The drug, BCX4430, is being tested in an early stage study in healthy volunteers. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the development of the intramuscular formulation of the drug.

An outbreak of Ebola killed close to 10,000 people across West Africa over the last year, with Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone being the worst affected.

A U.S. patient in treatment for the virus at an NIH facility in Maryland had improved to fair condition from serious, the NIH said on Monday.

Private company Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp have shown that their Ebola drugs could cure non-human primates.

The other companies that are currently testing potential treatments for the infection are GlaxoSmithKline, Sarepta Pharmaceuticals Inc, Novavax Inc, Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson.

Reporting By Samantha Kareen Nair; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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