Soligenix test vaccines show promise against ricin, anthrax

Biopharmaceutical company Soligenix said Monday that two of its products demonstrated “protective immunity” against exposure to ricin and anthrax in animal testing.

Ricin is a plant toxin that is highly stable and potent, and can come in several different forms, such as a pellet, pill, powder or mist. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a lethal dose of ricin to humans is the size of a grain of salt. It is thought to be a bio-terror threat due to its potency.

Anthrax is an infectious disease that is transmitted to humans through bacteria. The disease can cause an infection using three entry points: digestion, inhalation and through the skin.

The two drugs developed by Soligenix, RiVax and VeloThrax, were tested together and separately. Mice given both treatments were able to develop an immunity to both toxins.

Christopher Schaber, president and CEO of Soligenix, said the company is pleased that a vaccine may be possible for both toxins.

“The demonstration of simultaneous immunity to ricin and anthrax toxin is a step toward vaccines that can be used in the event of a national emergency," Schaber said. "We are continuing to develop RiVax using ThermoVax, our proprietary vaccine thermostabilization technology for the stockpiling and distribution of vaccines outside of normal cold chain requirements, under a recent NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) contract award of up to $24.7 million over five years. Ultimately, we intend to develop the combination vaccine using this same technology."

The study was done in conjunction with the Wadsworth Center in the New York State Department of Health and a $9.4 million grant from NIAID.