RTP-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals is launching a clinical trial of a potential treatment for Ebola with funding support from the U.S. government.

Durham-based Chimerix and GSK also are involved in the Ebola battle, which has killed more than 5,000 people.  

BioCryst (Nasdaq: BCRX) has already received more than $6 million in federal funds this year for research and development of its anti-viral compound known as BCX4430.

The funding is part of a contract worth up to $24.4 million signed between the government and BioCryst in September 2013.

No effective treatment for Ebola exists.

The latest deals push the total committed thus far to some $16 million.

The Phase 1 trial will include administration of the compound to healthy volunteers. BCX4430 is seen as a potential treatment for hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola. 

“The main goals of this first-in-human study are to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of escalating doses of BCX4430
administered via I.M. injection in healthy subjects,” the company said in a statement.

“In part one of the study, subjects will receive a single dose of BCX4430; in part two of the study, subjects will receive BCX4430 for seven days. Up to six single-dose cohorts and four multiple-dose cohorts will be evaluated, with a total of up to 88 volunteers participating.”

BioCryst is receiving funding support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

“The ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa emphasizes the urgent need for safe and effective antiviral agents for hemorrhagic fever virus diseases. With these additional funds, BioCryst can move forward with important non-human primate efficacy studies, an IND filing, and Phase 1 human trials of intramuscular BCX4430,” said Dr. William Sheridan, Chief Medical Officer at BioCryst, in a statement in August.

“We look forward to the body of evidence supporting BCX4430 evolving into a highly compelling package, enabling us to attract U.S. Government advanced development funding,” he added. “This is critical so that a new drug application can be filed as quickly as feasible for this unique, broad spectrum antiviral.”

Chimerix (Nasdaq: CRMX) and GSK (NYSE: GSK) also are involved in clinical trials.