ANNAPOLIS, Md . and PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
PharmAthene, Inc. (Amex: PIP), a biodefense company developing medical
countermeasures against biological and chemical threats, and Medarex, Inc.
(Nasdaq: MEDX), a leading monoclonal antibody company, today announced that
the FY 2008 Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill includes
"The latest DoD appropriations funding will be used to support further study of Valortim in a promising new animal model of anthrax infection," commented Matthew G. Meldorf, M.D., Senior Program Director for Valortim at PharmAthene. The new model, which is being developed at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), seeks to improve on existing therapeutic models for anthrax by closely monitoring the disease process to establish the presence of anthrax bacteremia and to determine the optimal window for therapeutic intervention.
"It is currently very difficult to evaluate the therapeutic effect of new treatments because the mortality rate is very high and the time-course from anthrax exposure to death is quite rapid in existing anthrax models," said Dr. Meldorf . "The newly-developed USAMRIID model uses a rapidly detectable surrogate marker for the development of symptomatic anthrax disease. This will enable us to more accurately determine the therapeutic efficacy of Valortim in animals who have active disease defined in this way."
"Six years after the anthrax attacks of 2001, we believe that the development of effective therapies to prevent and treat anthrax infection is still a critical national security priority," said David P. Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of PharmAthene. "Based on the promising preclinical and clinical data generated to date, we strongly believe that Valortim(TM) may be an appropriate choice for procurement in the Strategic National Stockpile under Project BioShield."
"We are pleased with the ongoing success of our colleagues at PharmAthene in securing external funding to support the advanced development of Valortim and believe that the new animal model under development at USAMRIID will help assess the therapeutic potency of this antibody," said Israel Lowy , M.D., Ph.D., Senior Director of Infectious Disease for Medarex. "Through our research we have identified important characteristics of Valortim, such as its mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, animal efficacy, and favorable human safety data. We believe that these attributes will play a key role in the further development of Valortim and potential government procurement."
Valortim (MDX-1303) is a fully human antibody designed to protect against anthrax infection, including inhalation anthrax, the most lethal form of illness in humans caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacterium. The investigational antibody is designed to target a protein component known as the anthrax protective antigen (PA) of the lethal toxin complex produced by the bacterium. The anthrax protective antigen is believed to initiate the onset of the illness by attaching to cells in the infected person, and then is believed to facilitate the entry of additional destructive toxins into the cells. Valortim is designed to target anthrax protective antigen and protect the cells from damage by the anthrax toxins.