AVI Biopharma Wins Big Ebola Contract Worth up to $291M

7/16/10Follow @xconomy

The Northwest might just be an emerging cluster for Ebola.

Research, anyway.

Bothell, WA-based AVI Biopharma (NASDAQ: AVII) said today it has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop treatments for the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses, in case they were ever used as bioterrorism agents. AVI stands to receive as much as $81 million in the first of four installments under the contract, which could be worth as much as $291 million total over time if the military keeps renewing the contract.

The AVI contract is the second big local deal for a biotech company with an Ebola treatment, after Vancouver, BC-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals said it won a contract worth as much as $140 million from the U.S. military for its experimental Ebola treatment. Both companies are pursuing strategies of silencing specific stretches of RNA, which hasn’t been possible with conventional pills, vaccines, or protein therapeutics.

Shares of AVI Biopharma climbed 15 percent to $1.88 at 10:30 Eastern time after the announcement.

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