Emergent BioSolutions gets $24 million to develop anthrax monoclonal antibody

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Emergent BioSolutions Inc. announced Sept. 3, 2008, that it has received a contract from the Department of Health and Human Services for about $24.3 million to further develop of its anthrax monoclonal antibody AVP-21D9.

This contract will be administered through the Office of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The four-year agreement provides funding for scale-up of the manufacturing process, for non-clinical studies, and for a Phase I clinical trial. Emergent anticipates that it will receive approximately $20 million over the first two contract years in support of the scale-up of the manufacturing process and the completion of a Phase I clinical trial. Emergent expects to focus on completing certain non-clinical studies during the final two years of the contract.

“We are very pleased to have secured this important contract with HHS. The AVP-21D9 antibody is a fully human antibody that has demonstrated very high affinity to the anthrax toxin in animal studies and shows great promise as an effective post-exposure anthrax therapeutic. We believe this funding from HHS underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to a multiprong approach in responding to the threat of bioterrorism in our country. We are certainly encouraged that we were able to secure this contract so soon following our acquisition of AVP-21D9 earlier this year,” said Stephen Lockhart, senior vice president, product development of Emergent BioSolutions.

AVP-21D9 is a fully human anthrax monoclonal antibody that appears to be a highly active therapeutic for anthrax based on laboratory and animal studies conducted to date. Based on non-clinical studies in mice, rats, and rabbits, AVP-21D9 provides a high level of protection even in animals with clinical symptoms of anthrax. AVP-21D9 was acquired from Avanir Pharmaceuticals in March 2008.