The biopharmaceutical company Soligenix, Inc. signed a worldwide exclusive license this week guaranteeing supply of its ricin antigen to SERB Pharmaceuticals, which the latter intends to use in developing a therapeutic treatment for ricin toxin poisoning.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Soligenix on the use of their antigen to accelerate our ricin therapeutic program,” Anthony Higham, CEO of SERB Pharmaceuticals, said. “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.”
Currently, no vaccine or therapeutic exists against ricin toxin, even though ricin can be obtained from the seeds of a castor oil plant and is easy to weaponize into a highly dangerous threat – one that has been harnessed many times since World War I.
Now, SERB will attempt to pair a broad-spectrum polyclonal antibody platform with the antigen from Soligenix. That antigen is a modified form of the ricin toxin, having removed the biological activity of the protein to remove its toxicity without sacrificing its ability to trigger an effective antibody response.
“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 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,” Dr. Christopher Schaber, president and CEO of Soligenix, said. “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 development of this early-stage program.”
The exact terms of the agreement between SERB and Soligenix have not yet emerged. However, Soligenix confirmed it includes a manufacturing supply agreement and a small royalty percentage after commercialization.