UAMS Gets Contract to Continue Study of Radiation Treatment Drug

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, has exercised two contract options worth about $8.7 million with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to proceed with development of a treatment for use in radiological or nuclear emergency situations, UAMS said Tuesday.

The first option by BARDA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, is for $7.5 million over two years. A second one-year option for $1.24 million is for research to be done as part of an interagency agreement between BARDA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Including the base BARDA contract for $4.5 million entered into in 2011, the total value awarded is more than $13 million, UAMS said.

Under the contract, a team of nearly 20 researchers will evalute the drug pasireotide, formerly known as SOM230, to treat gastrointestinal injuries after radiological or nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks. Hauer-Jensen will be assisted by an 18-person team of UAMS researchers.

UAMS said the drug could be a breakthrough for emergency preparedness as one of a small number of drugs that protects people after they've already been exposed to radiation.

The research contract is the largest in the UAMS College of Pharmacy's 60-year history.

The first phase of the research begun in 2011. During the next two years of the contract, the team will perform a range of studies to continue the development process.