SAN DIEGO, July 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: SRNE) today announced that it has received an Advanced Technology Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The peer-reviewed grant was awarded in further support of the Company's program to generate and develop novel antibody therapeutics and vaccines 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 award is for a total of $600,000, $300,000 annually for two years, with the possibility of Phase II funding of $1 million per year for up to 3 years. $300,000 was previously funded in 2010 and this second grant award represents year two of the Phase I grant award. In recommending the grant application for funding, expert panel reviewers noted that targeting quorum sensing and the virulence factors of S. aureus represented a paradigm shift, which could result in fewer side effects than conventional drug therapies.
"In view of this second grant award, it is clear that the NIH remains highly motivated to fund the innovative approach of quorum quenching we licensed from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) to tackle the serious healthcare burden of Staph aureus infections," said Henry Ji, Ph.D., Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Sorrento Therapeutics.
Sorrento Therapeutics' MRSA program targets specific auto-inducing peptides (AIPs) central to the quorum sensing system of S. aureus, which induces bacterial virulence. Masking these AIPs leads to a disruption of bacterial communication ("quorum quenching") and suppresses virulence. In January of 2010, the Company obtained an exclusive license to TSRI's quorum quenching technology, which lays the scientific foundation for this program.
"We believe that the use of quorum sensing signal molecules as targets for the development of vaccines and antibody therapeutics using our proprietary technology platform is a novel and promising approach to combat a serious public health issue. We look forward to working with our colleagues at Sorrento Therapeutics, Scripps and Montana State University in developing novel antibody therapeutics and vaccines against MRSA," said Dr. Kim Janda, Board member of Sorrento Therapeutics and Professor at TSRI.
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 applying and commercializing its proprietary turn-key human antibody libraries technology platform for the discovery and development of human therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of a variety of disease conditions, including cancer, inflammation, metabolic disease and infectious diseases. 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 a Phase II grant for the MRSA program from the NIH, 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, including MRSA and other infections, whether Sorrento Therapeutics will achieve its goals through the license agreement, the term of the license, the Company's ability to collaborate with TSRI and its researchers in the future, whether the Company will seek or gain regulatory approval to market any product candidates in the U.S. or internationally, whether the Company will continue to develop and protect its intellectual property 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.
SOURCE Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.