Biotech firm prepares for real-life killer bugs Print E-mail
By Carol M. Ostrom   
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 11:48
FDA CalendarWhen a virus is bad enough to take out major movie stars and gazillions of lesser mortals — all of whom die horrible, foamy-mouthed deaths in "Contagion," the star-studded disaster film that opened over the weekend — it makes you want to scrub your hands with bleach.
And wish fervently for fast work by a Bothell company that says it's got the key to making drugs in days to stop such deadly viruses in their tracks.

While the rest of us may be scared witless by the film, the Bothell staff members of AVI BioPharma gobbled it up Friday night along with beers and burgers at a private showing arranged by company CEO and President Chris Garabedian.

To them, the content was familiar turf, with realistic scientific details ensured by the film's high-level consultants.

"This is so relevant to what we're working on every day. It's not sensationalized — it's a real-world situation," said Garabedian, who thought the movie might inspire his employees, showing them how their hard work might apply in the event of an actual contagion.

Last year, the company got a big vote of confidence from the Department of Defense in the form of a $291 million-dollar grant. If the Defense Department and AVI have their way, pandemic killer virus movies like "Contagion" will eventually seem quaint.

AVI's first big break came in 2004, in a scary situation that sounds like it could have been its own movie plot. At a high-security facility at Fort Detrick, Md., a researcher accidentally stuck herself with a needle containing Ebola virus — an often-fatal hemorrhagic fever — while injecting mice, according to an account in The New Yorker earlier this... Read More At The Seattle Times

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