Theraclone reels as feds deny funding for flu antibody

Theraclone Sciences was hoping for a federal cash infusion to keep its anti-influenza antibody program rolling, but a denial from the government will force the biotech to handle Phase II on its own.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has opted against bankrolling Theraclone's TCN-032, a human monoclonal antibody designed to fight the flu. That leaves the biotech to its own devices in advancing the Phase II-ready therapy, but CEO Clifford Stocks said he hasn't given up, planning to meet with BARDA to flesh out a future proposal.

"While we are disappointed that we did not receive BARDA funding at this time, we remain encouraged by the potential of TCN-032 for two current indications--to help combat pandemic flu as well as the commercial potential to treat patients who are hospitalized with serious influenza infections given the novel mechanism, mutation resistance and extended therapeutic window of our antibody to flu," Stocks said in a statement.

Theraclone, a 2011 Fierce 15 member, is also in the midst of a Phase IIa trial for TCN-202, a monoclonal antibody designed to prevent human cytomegalovirus infection in patients undergoing organ transplants. Both treatments stem from the company's I-STAR discovery platform, designed to identify rare human antibodies that can be whipped up into effective drugs.

In August, Theraclone signed a deal to merge with biodefense drug developer PharmAthene ($PIP) in an all-stock deal, looking to marry its antibody programs with some promising biochemical vaccines. The agreement is still pending shareholder approval.

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Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2011 Fierce 15 - Theraclone Sciences