Soligenix: Ricin vaccine shows early promise

Soligenix presented preliminary trial data on Friday at the American Society of Microbiology on the potential success of its vaccine against ricin, RiVax.

In preliminary studies involving nonhuman primates, it was demonstrated that subjects who received three doses of the vaccine produced antibodies that were able to prevent symptoms and death when exposed to up to five times the known lethal amount for the subjects. Those that received the placebo all died.

The company noted that the lungs of those subjects who were vaccinated did not show lung damage that is characteristic of ricin intoxication.

“The improvement in both survival and morbidity with the use of this well-tolerated vaccine is a significant step forward in the development of RiVax for emergency preparedness use," Soligenix Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer Oreola Donini said during her presentation. “Previous studies with RiVax have demonstrated significantly enhanced thermostability, indicating that cold-chain storage will potentially not be required for this vaccine, enabling it to be stored and distributed at room temperature. RiVax is currently the subject of a preclinical and clinical development contract awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and worth up to $24.7 million over six years.”

Ricin is considered to be a bio-terrorism threat because of its lethality and the fact that it is a by-product of castor oil manufacturing.