Soligenix begins work on next-gen anthrax vaccine

Soligenix, Inc., a development stage biopharmaceutical company, announced on Thursday that it has started an agreement with Harvard University to begin a next generation anthrax vaccine development program.
The program is pursuant to a field-exclusive option agreement with Harvard to negotiate a license under patent rights covering prophylactic uses of an anthrax toxin protein that has been modified. The initial development work will be covered by a previously issued National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease grant worth $9.4 million.
The option encompasses an issued U.S. patent covering engineered variants of protective antigen developed by John Collier, a scientist who runs a laboratory at Harvard Medical School. PA is the main determinant of protective immunity to anthrax. Soligenix thinks it can develop the Collier anthrax vaccine with a superior efficacy profile to other anthrax vaccines.
"We are pleased to secure from Harvard option rights under the patent that covers this promising anthrax vaccine and to initiate its development under our existing grant funding," Christopher J. Schaber, the president and CEO of Soligenix, said. "We believe that the engineered PA variants can be used in platform technologies for delivery of single use or combination biodefense vaccines and will be useful for generating stable vaccines that induce antibodies in fewer doses than the conventional AVA or other rPA vaccines currently under development."
The current vaccine in use - anthrax vaccine adsorbed - consists of a defined, but impure, mixture of bacterial components.
"Another significant improvement for stockpiled vaccines we intend to focus on would be extended stability relative to conventional vaccines," Schaber said. "If long-term stability were achieved, the vaccine would have the potential to be stockpiled for general use and for post-exposure prophylaxis. We also envision expanding our thermostability technology into development of countermeasures against other more common infectious diseases."
Soligenix develops products that treat serious gastrointestinal diseases and life-threatening side effects of cancer treatments in addition to vaccines for certain bioterrorism agents.