Soligenix, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat rare diseases, recently extended its collaboration with IDT Biologika for the manufacture of RiVax, Soligenix’s proprietary heat-stable ricin toxin vaccine.
Ricin toxin is a by-product of castor oil production and, when ingested, can get inside the cells of the body and prevent them from making the proteins needed to survive. The toxin has been considered a potential biological weapon due to its stability, availability and high potency properties. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lethal dose of ricin toxin for a human is equivalent to the size of a grain of salt.
“This collaboration with IDT advances our effort to develop an effective, first-in-class vaccine against ricin toxin exposure in combination with our thermostabilization technology,” Christopher J. Schaber, president and CEO of Soligenix, said.
Under the extension, Soligenix will scale-up processes for formulation and filling, along with continuing the development and validation of analytical methods established at IDT. The methods being used aim to advance the program towards a commercially-viable scalable technology for the vaccine product compliant with good manufacturing practices.
RiVax has demonstrated both 100 percent protection in preclinical models of lethal ricin exposure as well as stability up to 1 year at 104 degrees fahrenheit. The vaccine’s heat tolerance means that it will not require cold chain shipment and storage for effective use.
“Collaborating with NIAID and IDT is an important step in advancing the development of our ThermoVax technology platform,” Schaber said. “Soligenix intends to use this innovative technology to develop a heat stable ricin toxin vaccine capable of achieving the goals of the US Government’s Strategic National Stockpile program.”
The vaccine will be financed with Federal funds of up to $24.7 million over the next six years, if all contract options are exercised by both companies. There are currently no treatments for ricin poisoning.