Shares in BioCryst Pharmaceuticals closed up more than 5% yesterday after it won a $12.1 million US federal grant to underpin further development of its antiviral for Ebola and other diseases. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has awarded the contract for the continued development of BCX4430 as a potential treatment for diseases caused by RNA pathogens, including filoviruses such as Ebola. 

This includes a base contract of $12.1 million to support drug manufacturing, as well as $22.9 million in additional development options that can be exercised by the government.

BCX4430 is a small molecule that prevents the Ebola virus from reproducing in the body. In non-human primate studies, the drug was effective against Ebola and Marburg virus, suggesting that it may be useful as a broad spectrum antiviral.

Phase I studies are already underway; the grant will be used to boost manufacturing processes and ramp up production in facilities in the US, “so that thousands of doses can be made with consistent product quality,” the HHS noted.