Soligenix receives $300,000 grant to develop melioidosis treatment

Soligenix, Inc., a Princeton, New Jersey-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, announced on Friday that it received a $300,000 grant to support further evaluation of a drug candidate to treat melioidosis.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded Soligenix the small business innovation research grant to support clinical development of SGX943 to treat melioidosis. The disease is caused by the gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, which is considered a category B bioterrorism agent by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Current treatment for melioidosis requires long, intensive antibiotic treatment with extensive supportive care. In endemic regions like northern Australia and southeast Asia, mortality from melioidosis can be as high as 40 percent.

In preclinical studies, SGX943 demonstrated efficacy with gram-positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other gram-negative pathogens. SGX943 works by stimulating the innate immune system to combat infection while simultaneously suppressing inflammation. The drug candidate could serve as a novel adjunctive treatment paradigm to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, such as melioidosis.

"Melioidosis remains a significant biothreat as well as a major life-threatening endemic disease in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia," Christopher Schaber, the president and CEO of Soligenix, said. "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."

The award will provide Soligenix with approximately $300,000 over one year to conduct collaborative studies on SGX943 with Tulane University.

According to the CDC, Burkholderia pseudomallei and the closely related Burkholderia mallei, which causes glanders, are considered category B bioterrorism agents. Category B agents are moderately easy to disseminate, result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates and require specific enhancements of the CDC's surveillance and diagnostic capabilities.