Soligenix, a development stage biopharmaceutical company, has initiated a next generation anthrax vaccine development program pursuant to a field-exclusive option agreement with Harvard University to negotiate a license under patent rights that cover prophylactic uses of a modified anthrax toxin protein. Initial development work will be covered pursuant to a previously issued $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) grant enabling development of thermo-stable ricin and anthrax vaccines.
The option encompasses an issued U.S. patent that covers engineered variants of protective antigen (PA) developed in the Harvard Medical School laboratory of Dr. John Collier. PA is the principal determinant of protective immunity to anthrax. Soligenix believes that it will be able to develop the Collier anthrax vaccine with an efficacy profile superior to other anthrax vaccines.
There has been a major effort on the part of the federal government to develop improved vaccines for use both pre- and post anthrax exposure. The vaccine currently in use, known as AVA (anthrax vaccine adsorbed), consists of a defined, but impure, mixture of bacterial components. AVA is FDA approved, but requires multiple injections followed by annual boosters. Vaccines such as AVA or others based on purified, native recombinant PA (rPA) sequences induce antibodies that neutralize anthrax holotoxin and can strongly protect animals from inhaled anthrax spores.