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Ebola candidate moves forward with a bit of financial help
PARIS—ABIVAX, a biotechnology company targeting the immune system to eliminate viral diseases using its unique technology platforms, announced recently that Bpifrance and Région Occitanie /Pyrénées-Méditerranée have agreed to provide a loan of €390,000 to the company for the development of a cocktail of polyclonal antibodies against the Ebola virus.
“We are excited about this additional funding from BPI, as this will be a major enabler for our ABX544 Ebola program,” said Dr. Hartmut J. Ehrlich, CEO of ABIVAX. “Ebola is a devastating disease with no licensed therapeutic treatment options, and ABX544 has the potential to address the urgent need for immediate prophylaxis and treatment during future outbreaks.”
Under this new program, Bpifrance and Région Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée will provide ABIVAX with a loan of €390,000 for its Ebola program, targeting the development of specific polyclonal rabbit antibodies directed against the Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP). This loan specifically covers the implementation of production and purification processes for GP and for the specific IgG from immunized rabbits, as well as proof of concept studies in vitro and in vivo.
ABIVAX's ABX544 program targets the generation of an Ebola hyperimmune serum, containing neutralising antibodies produced from animals immunized with a specific Ebola antigen. In contrast to a vaccine that needs time to generate a protective response, ABX544 is expected to have an immediate effect when administered. It can be applied either as treatment of infected persons or for protection of non-infected persons including healthcare workers, constituting a first line of defense during epidemic outbreaks. Following the formal preclinical evaluation including toxicology, ABIVAX aims to bring ABX544 into clinical trials.
“Given the recent re-emergence of Ebola in Africa, we see an urgent need to develop efficacious products for prophylaxis and treatment of this devastating disease,” said Bernard Fanget, vice president of regulatory affairs, process development and manufacturing at ABIVAX and long-term consultant to the World Health Organisation. “The loan from Bpifrance and Région Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée is expected to accelerate the development of ABIVAX's hyperimmune candidate.”
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe and often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals (fruit bats and monkeys) and following spread in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 percent, but fatality rates have varied from 25 percent to 90 percent in past outbreaks. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas. This 2014/15 outbreak was particularly severe, causing the disease in more than 28,000 individuals of which over 11,000 died.