HHS Awards Funds for Radiation Syndrome Research
A total of $56.3 million in contracts has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund the development of new drugs for treating injuries associated with acute radiation syndrome. Among entities awarded contracts include Araim Pharmaceuticals, whose two-year, $3.1 million contract will allow it to evaluate through studies whether its ARA 290 drug improves overall survival when administered 24 hours or longer after exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation, and Cellerant Therapeutics, whose contract extends a 2010 agreement for a second year and yields it an additional $16.7 million to continue studies and manufacturing activities to further develop a new way to treat neutropenia. Additionally,Neumedicines garnered a $17 million contract to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a drug known as recombinant human interleukin-12 (rhuIL-12), or HemaMax.. RxBio was granted a two-year, $15 million contract to study the efficacy of its drug Rx100, which may protect against radiation-induced gastrointestinal injury. Finally, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences received a two-year, $4.5 million contract to evaluate SOM230, a drug developed by Novartis to treat Cushing's Disease. T he contracts were distributed under the auspices of HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an agency within its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. BARDA is currently supporting the development of products to treat radiation-induced bone marrow, gastrointestinal, lung, and skin injuries. However, it anticipates expanding this roster include products to treat thermal burns that might be caused by a nuclear detonation.