Soligenix awarded additional ricin vaccine funding

Soligenix, Inc. has received an additional $2.7 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in order to continue development of their ricin vaccine, the company announced Wednesday.

The vaccine, RiVax, is currently in development and utilizes the company's thermostabilization technology that would help extend the shelf-life of the dosages. This extension comes in the form of NIAID utilizing an exercised option on their initial contract with the company.

"The execution of the first option reflects NIAID's ongoing commitment to develop viable thermostabilization technologies that can be applied to vaccines that provide for enhanced stability and the ability to avoid the burdensome logistics of cold chain distribution," Christopher Schaber, president and CEO of Soligenix, said. "It also highlights the government's commitment to identification and development of countermeasures to protect both the public and, more likely, first responders, in the event of ricin exposure."

This extended funding will allow for the company to continue the vaccine's development. Should NIAID utilize all possible contract extension options — which would total $24.7 million —Soligenix would be able to manufacture the vaccine candidate and have it undergo the complete clinical trial process in order to seek eventual approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Ricin toxin is a potential biological security threat due to its lethality and its stability. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a lethal dose for an adult is the size of a grain of salt.

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