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Cambridge's Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) Gets A Lift As Shelved Ebola Drug Offers Hope In Crisis

8/7/2014 6:38:45 AM

Cambridge's Sarepta Therapeutics Gets A Lift As Shelved Ebola Drug Offers Hope In Crisis Cambridge's Sarepta Therapeutics Gets A Lift As Shelved Ebola Drug Offers Hope In Crisis

August 7, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, Breaking News Staff

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (SRPT), a Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm, has pushed itself to the forefront of the Ebola crisis with a treatment that has shown promise in monkeys. The company is asking federal officials for permission to administer the drug to infected patients who have been infected with the disease.

The treatment, which is an injectible drug called AVI-7537, has seen a 60 to 80 percent success rate when used in primates. The development of the drug was stopped two years ago, but Sarepta views the most recent outbreak of Ebola as an opportunity to put the treatment to good use.

“We wanted to make it very clear that we had a drug available if it was needed, if a government agency was to speak up,” Chris Garabedian, CEO of Sarepta Therapeutics, told Basics Media. “Our focus as a company remains on pushing forward our Duchene Muscular Dystrophy program but the same technology has been developed over the last couple of years by our department of defense to prepare for times like this where we might need a medical countermeasure against Ebola or other serious viruses.”

Garabedian went on to say that although the success rate is based on testing in primates, the drug has also been used on human subjects at lower doses. He believes that administering AVI-7537 at low doses could help those with Ebola see a significant improvement in their condition.
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“We’ve seen favorable safety with respect to our drug, and so when you’re facing a disease that’s so lethal and there’s no available approved treatment, you have to weigh the risk and benefit of taking the drug versus the potential of dying,” Diane Berry, Sarepta’s vice president of global health policy and government affairs, told the Boston Globe.

Two Americans who had been working in West Africa to fight Ebola recently contracted the disease. They were flown back to the U.S. to Atlanta, Ga., for treatment.

In 2010, Sarepta Therapeutics was awarded approximately $291 million by the Department of Defense to work on treatments for the Marburg and Ebola viruses. However, the program ended in 2012 as a result of budget constraints. Now that Ebola has become a worldwide concern, Sarepta may get another shot at putting its former research and development to good use.

Ebola has killed about 900 people so far this year. Typically, it occurs in small, scattered outbreaks, making the situation in West Africa unique and dire.

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