Late-stage biopharmaceutical company Soligenix Inc. (SNGX:NASDAQ), which is engaged in developing and commercializing treatments for orphan diseases and other unmet medical needs including infectious diseases, biodefense applications and public health concerns, announced Monday that "it has signed a worldwide exclusive license to supply its ricin antigen to SERB Pharmaceuticals (SERB), for development of a novel therapeutic treatment against ricin toxin poisoning."
The firm noted that there is a large unmet need for addressing concerns presented by ricin, a highly potent toxin, which currently has no medically approved antidote, vaccine, or therapeutic.
SERB Pharmaceuticals' CEO Anthony Higham remarked, "We are pleased to be partnering with Soligenix on the use of their antigen to accelerate our ricin therapeutic program. With no current therapeutic options, the threat of ricin represents a significant unmet need in the field of biodefense and medical countermeasures."
"Our expertise in antibody development and the commercial scale manufacturing capabilities acquired with BTG together with SERB's track record of reliably providing a portfolio of high-quality Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) antidotes, uniquely positions us to successfully deliver a solution," CEO Higham added.
Soligenix Inc.'s President and CEO Christopher J. Schaber, Ph.D. commented, "Beyond our own development of a heat-stable ricin vaccine (RiVax®) to protect against lethal ricin poisoning, which has been supported with more than $30 million dollars to date by the U.S. government, we felt it important to also partner with SERB in the development of its ricin therapeutic drug candidate."
Schaber continued, "SERB is a leader in the field of medical countermeasures to protect the public and military forces. By supplying our novel ricin antigen as an important component of their formulation, we are hopeful that it will assist in accelerating the development of this early-stage program."
SERB plans to leverage its broad-spectrum polyclonal antibody platform to create, develop and advance an antidote for ricin. The report indicated that it acquired the platform when it acquired BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals in March of 2021.
The company explained that SERB's manufacturing platform is capable of generating binding fragments from antibodies that are specific to a given antigen which thereby ensures potency and purity. The firm indicated that the antibodies will be produced from the ricin toxin developed by Soligenix.
The report did not provide any specific details of the licensing agreement between the two companies except that the arrangement consists of a manufacturing supply agreement along with a small (undisclosed) royalty percentage upon commercialization.
The report pointed out that Ricin has been identified as a serious threat as far back as during World War I and more recently in a highly publicized case in September 1978 was used to assassinate writer Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident living in exile in London who was stabbed with a ricin poison-tipped umbrella while returning home from his job at BBC World Service radio.
Ricin presents cause for alarm as it is fairly easy to obtain and can be weaponized without much expertise into a highly potent toxin. The naturally occurring substance is derived from castor oil plant seeds and is considered one of the most toxic known biological agents and is classified as a "Category B bioterrorism agent and a Schedule number 1 chemical warfare agent."
SERB Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical company focused on critical conditions, emergency care, and rare diseases. The company develops, manufactures, and markets medicines for use worldwide.
Soligenix is a late-stage biopharmaceutical firm headquartered in Princeton, N.J. The company concentrates its efforts on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases with an unmet medical need. The company's biotherapeutics segment focuses on creating products for orphan diseases including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, oral mucositis, psoriasis, and pediatric Crohn's disease. Soligenix's public health solutions business is centered around the development of vaccines and therapeutics for use in civilian and military applications in the areas of emerging and antibiotic-resistant infectious disease, ricin exposure, and viral diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, and Marburg.
Soligenix ended yesterday with a market cap of around $35.59 million with approximately 42.87 million shares outstanding. SNGX shares have a premarket value of a little over 3% higher today at $0.91 (+$0.03, +3.84%) over the previous day's $0.8831 closing price. The stock will trade today between $0.82 and $0.9973 per share.
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