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FDA Grants Soligenix Orphan Drug Designation for OrbeShield™ for Treatment after Exposure to a Radiological Disaster

PRINCETON, N.J., Jan. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a development stage biopharmaceutical company, announced today that the Office of Orphan Products Development of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to OrbeShield™(oral beclomethasone 17,21-dipropionate or oral BDP) for the prevention of death following a potentially lethal dose of total body irradiation during or after a radiation disaster.

The US Orphan Drug Act is intended to assist and encourage companies to develop safe and effective therapies for the treatment of rare diseases and disorders.  In addition to providing a seven year term of market exclusivity for oral BDP upon final FDA approval, orphan drug designation also positions Soligenix to be able to leverage a wide range of financial and regulatory benefits, including government grants for conducting clinical trials, waiver of expensive FDA user fees for the potential submission of a New Drug Application for oral BDP, and certain tax credits.

Oral BDP is a highly potent, topically active corticosteroid that has a local effect on inflamed tissue.  BDP is the active ingredient in OrbeShield™, currently being developed for the treatment of gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome (GI ARS), the driving component in early mortality following high doses of total body irradiation (TBI).

"The FDA's decision to grant oral BDP orphan drug designation signifies an important step for Soligenix as we continue to expand our oral BDP pipeline," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix.  "The marketing exclusivity that orphan drug designation imparts adds significantly to the existing patent estate surrounding OrbeShield™. We believe that OrbeShield™ has the potential to be a significant advancement in the preparation necessary for this nation to manage a public health emergency like a nuclear attack." 

About GI ARS

ARS occurs after toxic radiation exposure and involves several organ systems, notably the bone marrow the GI tract and later the lungs.   In the event of a nuclear disaster or terrorist detonation of a nuclear bomb, casualties exposed to >2 Gy are at high risk for development of clinically significant ARS. Exposure to high doses of radiation exceeding 10-12 Gy causes acute GI injury which can result in death in 5-15 days.  The GI tract is highly sensitive due to the requirement for incessant proliferation of crypt stem cells and production of mucosal epithelium. The extent of injury to the bone marrow and the GI tract are the principal determinants of survival after exposure to TBI.  Although the hematopoietic syndrome can be rescued by bone marrow transplantation or growth factor administration, there is no established treatment or preventive measure for the GI damage that occurs after high-dose radiation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop specific medical countermeasures against the lethal pathophysiological manifestations of radiation-induced GI injury.

About OrbeShield™

OrbeShield™ is formulated for oral administration in GI ARS patients as a single product consisting of two tablets; one tablet releases BDP in the proximal portions of the GI tract and the other tablet releases BDP in the distal portions of the GI tract.  BDP has been marketed in the US and worldwide since the early 1970s as the active pharmaceutical ingredient in inhalation products for the treatment of patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma. Oral BDP may also have application in treating other GI disorders characterized by severe inflammation such as Crohn's disease and radiation enteritis.

About Soligenix, Inc.

Soligenix is a development stage biopharmaceutical company developing products to treat serious inflammatory diseases where there remains an unmet medical need, as well as developing several biodefense vaccines and therapeutics. Soligenix is developing proprietary formulations of oral BDP (beclomethasone 17.21-dipropionate) for the prevention/treatment of gastrointestinal disorders characterized by severe inflammation, including pediatric Crohn's disease (SGX203), acute radiation enteritis (SGX201) and chronic Graft-versus-Host disease (orBec®), as well as SGX942 for the treatment of oral mucositis.  

Through its BioDefense Division, Soligenix is developing countermeasures pursuant to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Strategic Plan of 2011-2016 for inclusion in the US government's Strategic National Stockpile. Soligenix's lead biodefense products in development are a recombinant subunit vaccine called RiVax™, which is designed to protect against the lethal effects of exposure to ricin toxin and VeloThrax™, a vaccine against anthrax exposure. RiVax™ has been shown to be well tolerated and immunogenic in two Phase 1 clinical trials in healthy volunteers. Both RiVax™ and VeloThrax™ are currently the subject of a $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grant supporting development of Soligenix's new vaccine heat stabilization technology known as ThermoVax™. Soligenix is also developing OrbeShield™ for the treatment of gastrointestinal acute radiation syndrome (GI ARS) under a $600,000 NIAID Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. OrbeShield™ has previously demonstrated statistically significant preclinical survival results in two separate canine GI ARS studies funded by the NIH.

For further information regarding Soligenix, Inc., please visit the Company's website at www.soligenix.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements that reflect Soligenix, Inc.'s current expectations about its future results, performance, prospects and opportunities. Statements that are not historical facts, such as "anticipates," "believes," "intends," or similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results in future periods to differ materially from what is expressed in, or implied by, these statements. Soligenix cannot assure you that it will be able to successfully develop or commercialize products based on its technology, particularly in light of the significant uncertainty inherent in developing vaccines against bioterror threats, manufacturing and conducting preclinical and clinical trials of vaccines, and obtaining regulatory approvals, that product development and commercialization efforts will not be reduced or discontinued due to difficulties or delays in clinical trials or due to lack of progress or positive results from research and development efforts, that it will be able to successfully obtain any further grants and awards, maintain its existing grants which are subject to performance, enter into any biodefense procurement contracts with the US Government or other countries, or that the US Congress may not pass any legislation that would provide additional funding for the Project BioShield program. These and other risk factors are described from time to time in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, Soligenix's reports on Forms 10-Q and 10-K. Unless required by law, Soligenix assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events.

SOURCE Soligenix, Inc.

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