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Soligenix Announces Formation Of Oral Mucositis Medical Advisory Board

Stocks in this article: SNGX

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a development-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced today the formation of a Medical Advisory Board (MAB) to provide medical/clinical strategic guidance to the Company as it advances the development of SGX942 for the treatment of oral mucositis, a common complication of cancer treatments.

Comprised of cancer supportive care thought leaders with extensive experience in oral mucositis, the MAB will play an important advisory role in the design and conduct of the upcoming Phase 2 clinical study as well as in the design of subsequent clinical studies and associated regulatory interactions with health authorities. The MAB will provide feedback, input and guidance on clinical strategies and their implementation as well as on other critical issues, such as health economics and reimbursement to assist Soligenix in meeting the needs of the oral mucositis patient population.

"Oral mucositis is a significant unmet medical need which ultimately impacts the tolerability of radiation and chemotherapy and therefore the survivability of cancer," stated Stephen T Sonis, DMD, DMSc, Clinical Professor of Oral Medicine at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.  "The lack of an effective treatment has frustrated healthcare providers and caused misery for innumerable patients. I'm delighted to be helping to develop SGX942 as I believe it holds significant promise as a mucositis intervention. As an innate defense regulator (IDR), SGX942 directly targets a fundamental biological mechanism which leads to mucosal injury caused by radiation and chemotherapy."

"We are pleased to be able to attract such esteemed and enthusiastic professionals to participate as members of our Medical Advisory Board," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix. "The initiation of an oral mucositis program marks the first step in the development of our IDR technology platform.  We look forward to working with the MAB and initiating a clinical program in 2013."

The MAB Members

Stephen T. Sonis, DMD, DMSc 

Dr. Sonis currently serves as Clinical Professor of Oral Medicine at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Senior Surgeon and Chief, Divisions of Oral Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and as Chief Scientific Officer, Biomodels, LLC.  He also serves as a consultant to a number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, advising directly on the conduct of clinical trials of oral mucositis.  Throughout his career, Dr. Sonis has focused on the biology and clinical significance of cancer regimen-related mucosal toxicities.  In particular, Dr. Sonis was pivotal in identifying the crucial role of innate immunity in the generation of severe oral mucositis. The results of his studies have provided treatment targets for biological and pharmaceutical development. Dr. Sonis and his collaborators have identified specific pathways that are critical in toxicity development and have used these to form the basis for models of gene-based risk prediction. Dr. Sonis has published and lectured extensively on the clinical, biological, and health economic aspects of cancer and complications associated with its treatment. He serves on a number of editorial boards, and is a founding member of the International Society of Oral Oncology and the International Academy of Oral Oncology. Dr. Sonis received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) from Tufts University, his Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) from Harvard University and was a Knox Fellow at Oxford University.

Dorothy Keefe, MD, FRACP, FRCP

Professor Keefe is Service Director, SA Cancer Services, Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Adelaide and a Senior Medical Oncologist at Royal Adelaide Hospital Cancer Centre.  She is Head of the Mucositis Research Group in the Hanson Institute, and Immediate Past-President of the Multi-national Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC).  Professor Keefe's research interests include mucositis in its broadest sense, covering patho-biology, epidemiology, prevention and treatment. She has been highly involved in leading the development of evidence-based guidelines for the management of mucositis through MASCC, as well as co-chairing an international, multi-centre study investigating burden of illness and cost of care for patients with mucositis. Professor Keefe graduated in Medicine (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery; MBBS) from the University of London. She migrated to Australia, where she undertook her Physician Training in General Medicine and Medical Oncology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in South Australia. She became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) and later a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London (FRCP). She received her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Adelaide.

Mark Schubert, DDS, MSD

Dr. Schubert is a Professor in the Department of Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry at the University of Washington and is the Director of Oral Medicine with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance as well as a Member in the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Schubert's research interests have focused on the oral complications of cancer and cancer therapy, especially as they relate to hematopoietic cell transplantation.  A primary area of interest has been the management of oral mucositis associated with cancer therapy. Research in oral mucositis management has focused on topical anti-infectives (defensins), growth factors and cytokines (KGFs and IL-11), cytoprotective agents (benzydamine, amifostine), and low level lasers therapy. Additional research interests include basic research and management strategies for other oral complications of cancer therapy including salivary gland dysfunction, oral graft-versus-host disease in allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant recipients, and dental growth and development problems following hematopoietic cell transplant. Additionally, Dr. Schubert has been involved with research related to oral changes and infections in HIV-infected patients.  Dr. Schubert received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington, where he completed a residency in Hospital Dentistry, and later received his Masters of Dental Sciences degree from the University of Washington.

About SGX942

SGX94 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.  SGX94 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.  SGX94 is the subject of an open Investigational New Drug (IND). SGX94 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 inclusive of government grants. 

About Oral Mucositis

Mucositis is the clinical term for damage done to the mucosa by anticancer therapies (e.g., radiation or chemotherapy).  It can occur in any mucosal region, but is most commonly associated with the mouth (i.e., oral mucositis), followed by the small intestine. Mucositis affects 500,000 people in the US per year and occurs in 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy.  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 mucositis depends greatly on the nature of the conditioning regimen used.  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. Direct and indirect consequences of mucositis have been estimated to add ~$18,000 per patient to cancer treatment costs.

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.

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