Soligenix, IDRI to develop thermostabilized biodefense vaccines

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 09:44 AM

Soligenix, a development stage biopharmaceutical company, has entered into a collaboration with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) of Seattle, Wash., to develop select biodefense vaccines using IDRI's potent and safe synthetic adjuvants in conjunction with Soligenix's proprietary subunit proteins and thermostability platform, ThermoVax. 

The combination of these technologies has the potential to result in vaccines with robust characteristics for long-term stability and rapid onset of protective immunity, desired features of vaccines that would be stockpiled for emergency use.

The first developmental objective of the collaboration is to assess the combination of one of IDRI's adjuvant compounds that has been shown to enhance the generation of high titer neutralizing antibodies to anthrax toxin with Soligenix's second generation DNI (Dominant Negative Inhibitor) subunit protein anthrax vaccine candidate, known as VeloThrax. Synethtic adjuvants are immunologically active compounds that are added to vaccines to aid in the induction of enhanced protective immune responses

VeloThrax is Soligenix's hyperimmunogenic derivative of anthrax rPA (recombinant protective antigen), a candidate vaccine to protect against anthrax disease. Concurrently, the second developmental objective is to assess the combination of an IDRI adjuvant with formulations of RiVax, Soligenix's vaccine against ricin toxin under development. The goal for both vaccines is to achieve stable products that will promote rapid onset of protective immunity in humans to minimize the number of vaccinations required for protective immunity.

"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 Darrick Carter, vice president of adjuvant technology, IDRI. "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."

The initial work of this collaboration is to be carried out under Soligenix's existing $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) grant supporting development of advanced heat stable vaccines against anthrax and ricin toxins. The objectives of this work are consistent with the development of product enhancements that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has advocated for effective biodefense

vaccines: long shelf life, rapid onset of immunity, post exposure prophylaxis, and surge capacity for production. For conventional vaccines, achievement of those objectives will also provide solutions that ameliorate problems with cold storage of vaccines. Together, IDRI and Soligenix are pursuing additional government development funding to further support this work.

"We are very pleased to be able to enter into a partnership of this type with IDRI," said Christopher J. Schaber, president and CEO of Soligenix. "IDRI possesses novel R&D, manufacturing and technical expertisein the field of adjuvants. 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 U.S. government with regard to rapid onset immunity with just one or two doses. As with any biodefense program, our goal is to have VeloThrax and RiVax stockpiled by the U.S. government in its strategic national stockpile."

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