The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded Achaogen a contract to develop its ACHN-490 antibiotic candidate as a treatment for bioterror agents.

The $27m contract is for a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat plague and tularaemia infections, and could be extended annually for up to three years for a total of $64 million.

The contract also requires Achaogen to conduct studies to show that the new antibiotic is safe for children, the elderly, and other special populations.

ACHN-490 is currently in trials for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections, and Achaogen is considering evaluating the drug for other indications.

BARDA director Dr Robin Robinson said that it is the first time BARDA research and development funds have been used in a multi-use approach like this.

“This new antibiotic is part of our push against antibiotic resistance for certain bacterial infections, and at the same time could provide a new treatment for plague and tularaemia biothreats,” Robinson said.