Aug. 9, 2012
/PRNewswire/ -- PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE Amex: PIP), a biodefense company developing medical countermeasures against biological and chemical threats, announced today that the Department of Defense (DoD) has elected to exercise its option to accelerate funding for PharmAthene's rBChE nerve agent medical countermeasure program contingent on the achievement of key milestone activities.
"We believe this is a timely decision given the recent headlines about the potential threat of chemical weapons. PharmAthene is proud to be working in collaboration with the DoD to address this threat and provide innovative new solutions for our partners," remarked
Eric I. Richman
, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We have enjoyed a productive collaboration with the DoD for many years, beginning with our first generation nerve agent countermeasure, Protexia
which completed a Phase I clinical study. We are pleased to be continuing our partnership to advance a next generation platform to deliver a flexible and efficient manufacturing approach, and a cost-effective solution to our government client in support of this important national security initiative."
A recombinant form of human butyrylcholinesterase, rBChE, is a naturally occurring protein found in minute quantities in blood. It functions as a natural bioscavenger, like a sponge, to absorb toxins such as organophosphorous poisons (nerve agents) and certain pesticides, before they cause irreversible neurological damage. Nonclinical studies in animals suggest rBChE has the potential to provide significant protection against chemical nerve agent poisoning when administered prophylactically (prior to exposure to nerve agent) and also may increase survival when administered therapeutically (following nerve agent exposure).
PharmAthene is developing rBChE as a pre- and post-exposure therapy for casualties on the battlefield or civilian victims of nerve agent attacks. Nerve agents belong to a class of compounds known as organophosphorus (OP) agents. OP nerve agents, such as sarin gas, soman, tabun or VX, enter the blood stream via inhalation or absorption through the skin. The nerve agents travel in the circulatory system to the brain and muscles causing the nerves to become over-stimulated which leads to massive convulsions and death in severe cases.