Soligenix CEO discusses vaccine development

Soligenix CEO and President Christopher Schaber said this week that despite his company's setbacks, even negative results can provide valuable ifnormation.

Schaber has dealt with the ups and downs of the industry, seeing his company's stock sink last year after announcing that trials of an oral drug it was developing for a gastrointestinal disease had shown little potential, reports.

In 2011, however, Soligenix announced a partnership with Harvard University to stabilize an anthrax vaccine, so that it would not lose its potency during long periods of storage. Soligenix is also working on a steroid that would treat inflammatory bowel disease and acute radiation syndrome.

Soligenix was founded in 1987 and, as a biotech company, it has adapted in order to meet the ever changing needs of consumers and the government. The company is driven by its expertise in the vaccine area, according to Schaber, reports.

A recent report by the DHS said that a large number of volatile vaccines are not stored properly, meaning they lose their potency. This led to Soligenix's work creating a freeze-dried vaccine through ThermoVax technology that could be stored at 40 degrees Celsius without the worry of degradation.

The technology will help improve responses to natural disasters and other concerns, Schaber said. The World Health Organization has identified a need to stabilize vaccines for not only the United States but for vaccines in the emerging and developing world. Refrigeration is expensive and difficult to maintain, reports.

Soligenix is also working on other projects. Its therapy for acute radiation system has lagged due to the company's focus on anthrax and ricin vaccines as a post-September 11, 2001, concern. Tests on animal models are still being developed to find the right levels of radiation exposure needed to show that a drug is working. He expects the treatment will be multi-faceted and require a cocktail of treatment depending on levels of exposure.

The work with vaccines can occur a little faster due to the governments need for biodefense countermeasures. Grants, though, can take a long time to be awarded. Additionally, there is not a lot of support for biodefense on Wall Street, which is why the government has an interest in developing vaccines and other countermeasures.

Once the vaccine is developed, then it can become lucrative as government contracts for the vaccine could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"That's when Wall Street looks at it and says, 'There's value there,'" Schaber said, reports. "But until then, it's a long road."