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DTRA awards $9.7M contract for drug development aimed at viral threats

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Holly Korschun

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has awarded Emory University a $9.7M contract to develop drugs to treat infections caused by emerging and man-made viral threats. Under the contract, the DTRA funds will be used to advance the development of the lead drug candidate.

"The aim of this proposal is to develop small molecule drugs for the treatment of the systemic and encephalitic forms of disease resulting from infection with Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV), Western Equine Encephalitis Virus (WEEV) and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (VEEV)," says George Painter, PhD, director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development (EIDD).

"This contract will allow us to address a major health threat posed by these potentially deadly emerging viruses and at the same time expand our nucleotide/nucleoside analog base of potential drugs for commercially important unmet needs."

"This contract demonstrates our abilities to discover and develop drugs for urgent public health needs. Our goal is to help make the world healthier and less dangerous," says Dennis Liotta, PhD, executive director of EIDD.

DTRA was founded in 1998 to integrate and focus the capabilities of the Department of Defense that address the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat. The mission of DTRA is to safeguard America and its allies from WMD (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives) by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate, and counter the threat, and mitigate its effects. Under DTRA, Department of Defense resources, expertise and capabilities are combined to ensure the United States remains ready and able to address the present and future WMD threats.

The EIDD was founded and constructed to provide the multidisciplinary capabilities that are required to effectively advance cutting-edge drug discovery and development programs at the preclinical stage. The EIDD is housed in 12,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art, fully equipped laboratory and office space that was specifically designed to support dedicated teams focused on medicinal and process chemistry, virology and molecular biology, bioanalytical chemistry, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics.

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