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BioCryst expects to begin Ebola study in weeks

(Reuters) - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc said it expects to initiate a study within weeks to test its antiviral in primates for use against Ebola infections

The biotechnology company's stock was up about 5.4 percent in premarket trading after it also said it had received an additional $2.4 million in U.S. government funding.

Companies with potential Ebola therapies have captured the spotlight as developers face mounting pressure to expedite research on new medical interventions to combat the deadly outbreak that could infect over 20,000 people.

The World Health Organization has allowed for people infected in the West African epidemic to be given untested drugs, ushering in an opportunity for makers of potential therapies.

This $2.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funding is in addition to the $22 million contract awarded to BioCryst by the agency last September.

The company received $4.1 million from NIAID earlier this month to advance development of an intramuscular formulation of its drug, BCX4430.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc on Thursday said its experimental Ebola vaccine, being co-developed with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is being fast-tracked into human studies.

In addition, U.S. researchers have planned human testing for a vaccine developed by Canadian government scientists, which has been licensed to NewLink Genetics.

Birmingham, Alabama-based BioCryst's stock closed at $13.21 on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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