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Soligenix Announces $200,000 NIDCR SBIR Grant Award Supporting Phase 2 Clinical Trial of SGX942 for the Treatment of Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Cancer

PRINCETON, N.J., April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat serious inflammatory diseases where there remains an unmet medical need, as well as developing several biodefense vaccines and therapeutics, announced today that the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has awarded Soligenix a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to support the conduct of its Phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating SGX942, a first-in-class innate defense regulator, as a treatment for oral mucositis in patients undergoing chemoradiation therapy for head and neck cancer.   

This Phase 2 study is a multicenter trial focused on patients with tumors of the mouth and oropharynx who often experience severe oral mucositis as a consequence of tumor treatment with intensity modulated radiation and chemotherapy.  The primary efficacy will be assessed on the basis of the incidence and duration of both ulcerative and severe oral mucositis throughout the course of radiation treatment.  Other key efficacy measures will assess patient reported outcomes, pharmacoeconomic parameters such as hospitalization and radiation-associated side effects including mouth stiffness (trismus) and dryness (xerostomia).  Patient enrollment into the study commenced December 2013.

"We are appreciative of the support provided by NIDCR for our Phase 2 clinical study of SGX942 in the treatment of oral mucositis," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix. "Oral mucositis remains an extremely debilitating side effect of cancer treatments and is particularly severe and prevalent in head and neck cancer patients.  We look forward to completing the study to demonstrate the potential clinical efficacy of SGX942."

Dr. Schaber continued, "We remain aggressive in our pursuit of government grants and contracts across our entire pipeline as a way to secure non-dilutive funding to support multiple development programs, while effectively managing our cash position." 

About Oral Mucositis

Mucositis is the clinical term for damage done to the mucosa by anticancer therapies. It can occur in any mucosal region, but is most commonly associated with the mouth, followed by the small intestine.  It is estimated, based upon review of historic published studies and reports and an interpolation of data on the incidence of mucositis, that mucositis affects approximately 500,000 people in the US per year and occurs in 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy. Mucositis can be severely debilitating and can lead to infection, sepsis, the need for parenteral nutrition and narcotic analgesia. The gastrointestinal damage causes severe diarrhea. These symptoms can limit the doses and duration of cancer treatment, leading to sub-optimal treatment outcomes.

The mechanisms of mucositis have been extensively studied and have been recently linked to the interaction of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with the innate defense system.  Bacterial infection of the ulcerative lesions is now regarded as a secondary consequence of dysregulated local inflammation triggered by therapy-induced cell death, rather than as the primary cause of the lesions.

It is estimated, based upon review of historic published studies and reports and an interpolation of data on the incidence of oral mucositis, that oral mucositis in head and neck cancer is a subpopulation of approximately 90,000 patients in the US, with a comparable number in Europe.  Oral mucositis almost always occurs in patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy (>80% incidence of severe mucositis) and is common (40-100% incidence) in patients undergoing high dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation, where the incidence and severity of oral mucositis depends greatly on the nature of the conditioning regimen used for myeloablation.

Oral mucositis in head and neck cancer remains an area of unmet medical need where there are currently no approved drug therapies. 

About SGX942

SGX942 is an innate defense regulator (IDR), a new class of short, synthetic peptides that has a novel mechanism of action in that it has simultaneous anti-inflammatory and anti-infective activity.  IDRs have no direct antibiotic activity but modulate host responses, increasing survival after infections with a broad range of bacterial Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens, as well as accelerating resolution of tissue damage following exposure to a variety of agents including bacterial pathogens, trauma and chemo- and/or radiation therapy.  SGX942 has demonstrated safety in a Phase 1 clinical study in healthy human volunteers and efficacy in numerous animal disease models including mucositis, colitis, skin infection and other bacterial infections.  SGX942 and related analogs has a strong intellectual property position, including composition of matter.  SGX942 was developed pursuant to discoveries made by Professors B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Robert Hancock, PhD of the University of British Columbia, Canada and approximately $40 million has been put towards its development to date, inclusive of government grants. 

SGX942 has received fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of oral mucositis as a result of radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment in head and neck cancer patients.  Fast track is a designation that the FDA reserves for a drug intended to treat a serious or life-threatening condition and one that demonstrates the potential to address an unmet medical need for the condition.  Fast track designation is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs.  For instance, should events warrant, Soligenix will be eligible to submit a new drug application (NDA) for SGX942 on a rolling basis, permitting the FDA to review sections of the NDA prior to receiving the complete submission.  Additionally, NDAs for fast track development programs ordinarily will be eligible for priority review, which imparts an abbreviated review time of approximately six months. 

About Soligenix, Inc.

Soligenix is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on 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 developing its novel innate defense regulator (IDR) technology 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 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 BARDA contract award valued up to $26.3 million and a NIAID contract award valued up to $6.4 million. OrbeShield™ has previously demonstrated statistically significant preclinical survival results in a canine model of GI ARS funded by the NIAID.  Additionally, Soligenix has an exclusive worldwide collaboration with Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) focused on the joint development of a treatment for Melioidosis, a high priority biothreat and an area of unmet medical need.

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, including but not limited to, potential market sizes, patient populations and clinical trial enrollment.  Statements that are not historical facts, such as "anticipates," "estimates," "believes," "intends," "potential," 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, achieve regulatory approval for or commercialize products based on its technologies, particularly in light of the significant uncertainty inherent in developing vaccines against bioterror threats conducting preclinical and clinical trials of vaccines, obtaining regulatory approvals and manufacturing vaccines, 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 funding to support product development and commercialization efforts, including grants and awards, maintain its existing grants which are subject to performance requirements, enter into any biodefense procurement contracts with the US Government or other countries, that it will be able to compete with larger and better financed competitors in the biotechnology industry, that changes in health care practice, third party reimbursement limitations and Federal and/or state health care reform initiatives will not negatively affect its business, 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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