PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat serious inflammatory diseases where there remains an unmet medical need, as well as developing several biodefense vaccines and therapeutics, announced today that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded Soligenix a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to support further preclinical development of SGX943 as a treatment for melioidosis. The award will provide Soligenix with approximately $300,000 over one year to conduct the studies in collaboration with Tulane University.
Melioidosis is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bps). Current treatment for melioidosis requires long and intensive antibiotic administration and extensive supportive care. In endemic regions, mortality from melioidosis can be as high as 40%. In addition to causing a high rate of endemic disease in Southeast Asian and Northern Australia, Bps is also considered a top five priority in the most recent Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise (PHEMCE) Strategy document.
SGX943 has been comprehensively evaluated in bacterial infection models and has shown preclinical efficacy with Gram-positive methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as well as with other Gram-negative pathogens. As an innate defense regulator, SGX943 does not have direct antibacterial activity, but rather stimulates the innate immune system to combat infection while simultaneously suppressing inflammation. Thus, SGX943 has the potential to be a novel adjunctive treatment paradigm for antibiotic resistant infections, including melioidosis.
This new grant will support further evaluation of SGX943 in the treatment of melioidosis in preclinical studies. These results will represent a significant step forward in the development of SGX943 as a medical countermeasure for melioidosis.
"Melioidosis remains a significant biothreat as well as a major life-threatening endemic disease in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix. "We are encouraged with the promising preclinical survival results observed to date with SGX943. With this support from NIAID, we look forward to continuing development of SGX943 in melioidosis."
Melioidosis is a potentially fatal infection caused by the Gram-negative bacillus, Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bps). Highly resistant to many antibiotics, Bps can cause an acute disease characterized by a fulminant pneumonia and a chronic condition that can recrudesce. There is no preventive vaccine or effective immunotherapy for melioidosis. Therefore, there is a significant medical need for improved prevention and therapy.
Bps and the closely-related Burkholderia mallei (Bm) are considered possible biological warfare agents by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) because of the potential for widespread dissemination through aerosol. Bps is classified as a Tier 1 biothreat and a category B priority pathogen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and is a top five priority in the most recent Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise (PHEMCE) Strategy document.
Bps infection (melioidosis) is a major public health concern in the endemic regions of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Moreover, the organism has a worldwide distribution and the full extent of global spread is likely underestimated. Bps activity is seen in Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Northern Australia. The highest pockets of disease activity occur in Northern Australia and Northeast Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, and is likely under-reported in China. In Northeast Thailand, the mortality rate associated with Bps infection is over 40%, making it the third most common cause of death from infectious disease in that region after HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
SGX943 is the drug product designation for the active ingredient SGX94 in the treatment of melioidosis. SGX94 is an innate defense regulator (IDR), a new class of short, synthetic peptides that has a novel mechanism of action in that it has simultaneous anti-inflammatory and anti-infective activity. IDRs have no direct antibiotic activity but modulate host responses, increasing survival after infections with a broad range of bacterial Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens, as well as accelerating resolution of tissue damage following exposure to a variety of agents including bacterial pathogens, trauma and chemo- and/or radiation-therapy. SGX94 has demonstrated safety in a Phase 1 clinical study in healthy human volunteers and efficacy in numerous animal disease models including mucositis, colitis, skin infection and other bacterial infections. SGX94 and related analogs have a strong intellectual property position, including composition of matter. SGX94 was developed pursuant to discoveries made by Professors B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Robert Hancock, PhD of the University of British Columbia, Canada and approximately $40 million has been put towards its development to date, inclusive of government grants. SGX94, the active ingredient in SGX942, is also in clinical development for the treatment of oral mucositis.
About Soligenix, Inc.
Soligenix is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat serious inflammatory diseases where there remains an unmet medical need, as well as developing several biodefense vaccines and therapeutics. Soligenix is developing proprietary formulations of oral BDP (beclomethasone 17,21-dipropionate) for the prevention/treatment of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by severe inflammation, including pediatric Crohn's disease (SGX203), acute radiation enteritis (SGX201) and chronic Graft-versus-Host disease (orBec®), as well as developing its novel innate defense regulator (IDR) technology SGX942 for the treatment of oral mucositis.
Through its BioDefense Division, Soligenix is developing countermeasures pursuant to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Strategic Plan of 2011-2016 for inclusion in the US government's Strategic National Stockpile. Soligenix's biodefense products in development are a recombinant subunit vaccine called RiVax™, which is designed to protect against the lethal effects of exposure to ricin toxin and VeloThrax™, a vaccine against anthrax exposure. RiVax™ has been shown to be well tolerated and immunogenic in two Phase 1 clinical trials in healthy volunteers. Both RiVax™ and VeloThrax™ are currently the subject of a $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant supporting development of Soligenix's new vaccine heat stabilization technology known as ThermoVax™. Soligenix is also developing OrbeShield™ for the treatment of gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome (GI ARS) under a BARDA contract award valued up to $26.3 million and a NIAID contract award valued up to $6.4 million. OrbeShield™ has previously demonstrated statistically significant preclinical survival results in a canine model of GI ARS funded by the NIAID. Additionally, Soligenix has an exclusive worldwide collaboration with Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) focused on the joint development of a treatment for Melioidosis, a high priority biothreat and an area of unmet medical need.
For further information regarding Soligenix, Inc., please visit the Company's website at www.soligenix.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements that reflect Soligenix, Inc.'s current expectations about its future results, performance, prospects and opportunities, including but not limited to, potential market sizes, patient populations and clinical trial enrollment. Statements that are not historical facts, such as "anticipates," "estimates," "believes," "intends," "potential," or similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results in future periods to differ materially from what is expressed in, or implied by, these statements. Soligenix cannot assure you that it will be able to successfully develop, achieve regulatory approval for or commercialize products based on its technologies, particularly in light of the significant uncertainty inherent in developing vaccines against bioterror threats conducting preclinical and clinical trials of vaccines, obtaining regulatory approvals and manufacturing vaccines, that product development and commercialization efforts will not be reduced or discontinued due to difficulties or delays in clinical trials or due to lack of progress or positive results from research and development efforts, that it will be able to successfully obtain any further funding to support product development and commercialization efforts, including grants and awards, maintain its existing grants which are subject to performance requirements, enter into any biodefense procurement contracts with the US Government or other countries, that it will be able to compete with larger and better financed competitors in the biotechnology industry, that changes in health care practice, third party reimbursement limitations and Federal and/or state health care reform initiatives will not negatively affect its business, or that the US Congress may not pass any legislation that would provide additional funding for the Project BioShield program. These and other risk factors are described from time to time in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, Soligenix's reports on Forms 10-Q and 10-K. Unless required by law, Soligenix assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events.
SOURCE Soligenix, Inc.