$36M Respiratory drug deal to CUBRC

A Cheektowaga nonprofit group has won a federal contract worth up to $36 million over five years to develop a drug to treat respiratory disease caused by biological threats.

CUBRC Inc. received the award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Plans call for developing and manufacturing an antibiotic for respiratory diseases caused by biodefense and public health pathogens.

The contract includes committed funding of $5.8 million with options that could bring the total value of the contract to nearly $36 million. Tom McMahon, president and CEO, called the contract a major opportunity for CUBRC.

Founded in 1983, the nonprofit organization concentrates its research on hypersonics and chemical defense. Historically most of its funding has come through the Department of Defense. This new contract opens the door to additional opportunities within NIH, McMahon says.

“This is a stepping stone,” he says. “Strategically, it’s incredibly important. We expect to be able to expand this activity.”

The organization is partnering on the project with Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company near Boston, Mass. The drug candidate, TP-271, was discovered and patented by Tetraphase with its core technology licensed from Harvard Medical School. It is designed to be effective against multiple types of infections, including both community-acquired bacterial pneumonia as well as biothreat agents causing anthrax disease, bubonic plague and other diseases.

Serving as prime contractor, CUBRC has subcontracts with about 10 companies around the country to handle development and manufacturing as well as clinical trials.