Soligenix, Inc. (Soligenix or the Company), a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where there is an unmet medical need, announced today that its SGX943 (dusquetide) development program has received “Fast Track” designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as adjunctive therapy with other antibacterial drugs, for the treatment of melioidosis, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
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 SGX943 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.
“We are very pleased to have been granted fast track designation from the FDA,” stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix. “We believe that the FDA’s action in granting fast track designation validates the unmet medical need that currently exists for the treatment of melioidosis and for the potential key role SGX943 can serve as a therapy in this rare, life-threatening disease. We look forward to working with the federal government to advance this biodefense development program.”
Melioidosis is a potentially fatal infection caused by the Gram-negative bacillus, Burkholderia pseudomallei(Bps). Highly resistant to many antibiotics, Bps can cause an acute disease characterized by a fulminant pneumonia and a chronic condition that can recrudesce. There is no preventive vaccine or effective immunotherapy for melioidosis. Therefore, there is a significant medical need for improved prevention and therapy.
Bps and the closely related Burkholderia mallei (Bm) are considered possible biological warfare agents by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) because of the potential for widespread dissemination through aerosol. Bps is classified as a Tier 1 biothreat and a category B priority pathogen by the NIAID and is a top 5 priority in the most recent Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise (PHEMCE) Strategy document.
Bps infection (melioidosis) is a major public health concern in the endemic regions of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Moreover, the organism has a worldwide distribution and the full extent of global spread is likely underestimated. Bps activity is seen in Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Northern Australia. The highest pockets of disease activity occur in Northern Australia and Northeast Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, and is likely under-reported in China. In Northeast Thailand, the mortality rate associated with Bps infection is over 40%, making it the third most common cause of death from infectious disease in that region after HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
SGX943 is the drug product designation for the active ingredient dusquetide in the treatment of melioidosis. Dusquetide is an 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. Dusquetide has demonstrated safety in a Phase 1 clinical study in 84 healthy human volunteers and preliminary efficacy and safety in an exploratory Phase 2 clinical study in 111 patients with oral mucositis due to chemoradiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Dusquetide has also previously demonstrated efficacy in numerous animal disease models including melioidosis, mucositis, colitis, skin infection and other bacterial infections. Dusquetide and related analogs have a strong intellectual property position, including composition of matter. Dusquetide was developed pursuant to discoveries made by Professors B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Robert Hancock, PhD of the University of British Columbia.
The testing of SGX943 in melioidosis has been supported by a NIAID Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant valued at approximately $300,000 over one year.