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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Isle biotech firm lands $5.1M grant

Advertiser Staff

PanThera Biopharma LLC, an 'Aiea company developing biopharmaceuticals, has been awarded $5.1 million more in potential funding for its work developing an anti-toxin that can be used in combating anthrax attacks.

PanThera recently received the grant from the National Institutes of Health and will receive disbursements over a five-year period based on its performance. The company said the funding will be helpful as it develops a tablet-form of an anti-toxin.

The biopharmaceuticals company said it's already had encouraging results for an anti-toxin, which has provided protection for laboratory rats exposed to a key toxin involved in anthrax disease.

PanThera had previously attracted $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health, as well as $900,000 of funding from its parent company, Honolulu-based STI Industries Inc.

"It's very encouraging," said Will Alameida, PanThera president and chief executive officer. He said the company believes it is currently in the lead in the search for an anti-toxin that can work on a cellular level. Moreover, Alameida said PanThera's is aiming for the development of a pill that can be easily transported and administered versus intravenous fluids or oral liquids that must be refrigerated.

"We've still got a lot of work to do to optimize those compounds."

He said more testing needs to be done and that testing needs to take place on how PanThera's product might work in combination with other drugs that need to be given to people infected with the complete anthrax bacterium.

Alameida said all of the core work on the project is being done by the company here, though it has collaborators elsewhere. The researchers here do not use anthrax toxins in their work and rely on Mainland laboratories to test with the lethal toxins.