Feds' $1B antiterror drug development program yields little

The U.S. government has been given an expensive lesson on just how frustrating new drug research can be. Over the past five years the feds invested a billion dollars in new programs to find and advance drugs that could help repel a viral invasion. But more than 100 contractors, including Boston's MicroBiotix, managed to identify only two promising treatments, reports the Boston Globe, and both are still a long way from approval.

Interestingly, some 50 development programs have run into choppy waters, even though they're limited to animal research, a field that typically offers a lower bar for researchers to clear. So now the feds will shift focus, moving away from new therapies and toward new technologies that can be used to rapidly identify modified viruses that the government fears could be used in a silent attack.

One problem: It's easier to mount a bioterror attack than it is to defend against one. "The offensive capabilities outrun the defensive capabilities as the march of biology continues,'' said bioterror expert Richard Danzig.

But the government hasn't lost its desire for new bioterror therapies. The Holy Grail now is to find a single, universal antidote that will disarm all viruses. Needless to say, they are nowhere near to filling that contract.

- here's the article from the Boston Globe