SAN DIEGO, June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCBB: SRNE) today announced that it has received an Advanced Technology Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Fast Track grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH. The peer-reviewed grant was awarded to support the Company's program to generate and develop novel human antibody therapeutics to combat Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus or "Staph") infections, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), by disrupting quorum sensing, a bacterial communication process essential to virulence. The Phase I grant is for $300,000 annually for two years, with the possibility of Phase II funding of $1 million per year for up to 2 years.
"Based on the increasing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospital settings as well as in our communities, it is great to see that the NIH/NIAID is allocating available resources to support the development of desperately needed new strategies to combat these serious infections. We believe our focused and innovative program to develop antibody therapeutics against MRSA holds great clinical promise because of the high morbidity and mortality caused by this pathogen and the increasingly limited treatment options available to clinicians," said Henry Ji, Ph.D., Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Sorrento Therapeutics.
Sorrento Therapeutics' MRSA program specifically targets the auto-inducing peptides (AIPs) central to the quorum sensing system of S. aureus that controls bacterial virulence, including toxin production. Sequestering these peptides disrupts bacterial communication and thus, suppresses Staph virulence. This is the second STTR grant awarded to the Company in the field of anti-Staph research. The initial Phase I grant award received in 2010 supports the development of a Staph vaccine that targets the AIPs. In 2010, the Company obtained an exclusive license to The Scripps Research Institute's (TSRI) quorum quenching technology, which has provided a strong scientific foundation for the Company's Staph program. "We look forward to continue working with our colleagues at TSRI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and Montana State University in developing novel antibody therapeutics against MRSA," added Barbara Swanson, Ph.D., the Principal Investigator on the grant.
For 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 94,000 serious invasive MRSA infections occurred in the U.S. and more than 19,000 Americans died from these infections - more than from HIV/AIDS. A recent (2009) study from Duke University Medical Center looking at MRSA infections associated with surgery found a 35-fold increased risk of hospital readmission, a 7-fold increased risk of death, and more than $60,000 of additional charges per patient compared to uninfected controls. IMS Health reported that U.S. sales of antibiotics to treat MRSA exceeded $1 billion in 2007. Although a report from the Government Accounting Office indicates that no federal agency adequately monitors antibiotic resistance or evaluates its social and financial costs, various estimates place the annual cost to the healthcare system as high as $5 billion.
About the Sorrento Therapeutics MRSA Program
Sorrento Therapeutics has obtained an exclusive, worldwide license from TSRI to use this novel quorum sensing technology to identify fully human antibodies for the neutralization of Staph-specific signaling peptides that control bacterial virulence. A research group at TSRI has shown that sequestering these signaling peptides, which are integral components of a bacterial communication process called quorum sensing, results in significantly reduced virulence of MRSA in both cellular and animal models. The Company believes the Staph signaling peptide analogs described by TSRI represent a unique opportunity to develop both vaccines and antibody-based immunotherapeutics to combat MRSA.
About Sorrento Therapeutics
Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. is a development-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel and proprietary biotherapeutics for the treatment of a variety of disease conditions, including cancer, inflammation, metabolic and infectious diseases. The Company's objective is to either independently or through one or more partnerships with pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical organizations identify drug development candidates derived from its own proprietary human antibody libraries. More information is available at www.sorrentotherapeutics.com. Information on the Company's website or any other website does not constitute a part of this press release.
This press release contains forward-looking statements subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements include statements about Sorrento Therapeutics' MRSA program and its prospects, the research and development opportunities presented by the Company's license agreement with TSRI, Sorrento Therapeutics' potential opportunity to receive funding for the second year of this Phase I grant and a Phase II grant for the MRSA program from the NAIAD, whether the Company's development of antibody therapeutics against MSRA holds great clinical promise and the Company's potential development of human vaccines and antibody therapeutics. Risks and uncertainties include whether Sorrento Therapeutics will have sufficient resources to develop vaccines and antibody therapeutics and additional risks set forth in Sorrento Therapeutics' filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements represent Sorrento Therapeutics' judgment as of the date of this release. The Company disclaims, however, any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
Acknowledgment of NIH Support
The project described was supported by Award Number 1R42AI098182-01 from the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or the NIH.
SOURCE Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.