Aiea company on track to slow down anthrax - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Aiea company on track to slow down anthrax

Alan Johnson Alan Johnson
April Banaag April Banaag

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

AIEA (KHNL) -- An Aiea drug company says it's on track to create the first pill-form treatment for a deadly disease widely-known as a national security threat. Wednesday is a normal day for the scientists working at Panthera Bio Pharma. but it wasn't too long ago when they came up with something out of this world -- the world's only pill-form treatment for anthrax.

"It could be used in the time of need," Panthera Bio Pharma president and CEO Will Alameida said. "It could be rapidly deployed, safe and effective, this is very different from what's available today, within the u.s. government."

It attacks and destroys the infected cells in a person's body.

It's not a preventative drug and chemists say it should be used when a person has been exposed to anthrax.

"What we've been working on over the last year or two is improving the potency of these compounds, so that hopefully you won't be taking one of those large vitamin pills, you'll be taking a very small pill," Panthera Bio's director of chemistry Alan Johnson said.

It's still in powder form, but Panthera Bio officials hope to make it into a pill which is still a few years off.

"Clearly, this shows the work we've been doing has paid off and that's really the fun part for us scientist is coming up with a hypothesis, testing hypotheses, then finding out we were successful," Johnson said.

Chemist who worked on the pill says it's a rewarding experience knowing they've helped millions who may come in contact with anthrax.

"Adding one more piece to the puzzle and that's basically getting as much data points as we can possibly get, to see the overall picture," Chemist April Banaag said.

The small company has leveraged big federal dollars to come up with a way to help people get through a deadly disease.

The anti-anthrax drug is still in pre-clinical stages, but it has completed successful testing on rats. Officials say all animal testing is done in mainland labs. Panthera's Aiea lab works with a non-toxic strain of the disease.

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