Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Soligenix teams up with Infectious Disease Research Institute to develop biodefense vaccines

Soligenix (OTCBB:SNGX) said Wednesday that it has inked a collaboration agreement with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) of Seattle, Washington, to develop biodefense vaccines.

The deal will see the two companies partner to develop vaccines using IDRI's synthetic adjuvants, together with Soligenix's proprietary subunit proteins and thermostabilization platform known as ThermoVax.

The company's technology allows vaccines that usually need to be refrigerated to maintain their efficacy at higher temperatures.

In April, Soligenix said that its RiVax vaccine, when combined with its ThermoVax technology, retained its potency and effectiveness when stored at 40 degrees Celsius for longer than three months.

The synthetic adjuvants provided by IDRI are immunologically active compounds that are added to vaccines to aid in inducing enhanced protective immune responses.

Soligenix said that the combination of the adjuvants with ThermoVax can result in vaccines with "robust characteristics for long-term stability and rapid onset of protective immunity."

These are both desired features for vaccines that would be stockpiled for emergency use.

The first part of the collaboration will see the partners assess the combination of one of IDRI's adjuvant compounds that has been shown to enhance immune responses to the anthrax toxin, with Soligenix's subunit protein anthrax vaccine candidate VeloThrax.

VeloThrax is Soligenix's hyperimmunogenic derivative of anthrax rPA, or recombinant protective antigen, a candidate vaccine designed to protect against anthrax disease.

The second objective of the collaboration will be to assess the combination of another IDRI adjuvant with formulations of Soligenix's RiVax vaccine, under development for protection against the ricin toxin.

The aim for both vaccines is to achieve stable products, the parties said, that will promote the rapid onset of protective immunity to minimize the number of vaccinations required.

"We believe that with the addition of IDRI's potent adjuvants to our hyperimmunogenic anthrax and ricin toxin vaccines, we will have the potential to develop highly competitive biodefense vaccines that can address the exact needs of the US government with regard to rapid onset immunity with just one or two doses," said president and CEO of Soligenix, Dr. Christopher J. Schaber.

"As with any biodefense program, our goal is to have VeloThrax and RiVax stockpiled by the US government in its strategic national stockpile."

The initial work under the agreement is to be carried out under Soligenix's existing $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) grant, supporting the development of advanced heat stable vaccines against anthrax and ricin toxins.

"IDRI is enthusiastic about working with Soligenix to support their efforts in developing their anthrax and ricin vaccine candidates, and are highly confident that IDRI's adjuvant technology can help build effective vaccines," said IDRI's vice president of adjuvant technology, Darrick Carter PhD.

"These new candidate vaccines could be the critical solution in providing protection to people in the event there is a bioterror threat from the release of anthrax or ricin toxins."

In addition to biodefense application, Soligenix noted that a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services showed the need for thermostable vaccines to eliminate the need for cold chain manufacturing and storage.

Excursions from cold chain temperatures lead to the inactivation of vaccines, thereby putting recipients of vaccines at risk.

IDRI and Soligenix are together pursuing additional government development funding to further support this work, they said.

IDRI is a Seattle-based not-for-profit organization focused on the research and development of products to prevent, detect, and treat infectious diseases of poverty.

Soligenix is a biopharmaceutical company developing products to treat life-threatening side effects of cancer treatments and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as vaccines for certain bioterrorism agents. Its lead product, orBec, is a corticosteroid that has been initially developed for the treatment of acute gastrointestinal Graft-versus-Host disease, a complication of hematopoietic cell transplantation.

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