SIGA Pharmaceuticals Receives Research Grants.
SIGA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGPH) announced today that it has been awarded two research grants totaling $400,000. The grants will support antibiotic and strep throat vaccine development programs at SIGA Research Labs, the Company's research and development facility. The grants were awarded by the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) of the National Institutes of Health.
The first grant will support the Company's antibiotic discovery efforts. SIGA's antibiotics programs are aimed at "disarming" bacteria by interfering with the expression of bacterial surface proteins. Surface proteins are used by bacteria in the attachment to human tissue, the first step in the infection process. No existing antibiotics act through this mechanism.
The second grant will support the development of a subunit vaccine targeting strep throat based on the Company's proprietary antigen. Strep throat can be caused by more than 120 different types of group A streptococcus, and SIGA's technology is based on a region of the streptococcus M protein that is common to the multiple types of the disease causing bacteria. SIGA is currently developing StrepImmune, a group A streptococcal vaccine candidate based on the Company's proprietary commensal bacteria delivery system. The StrepImmune program is being developed through a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. "The development of a subunit vaccine will complement our existing vaccine efforts and will provide us with a second vaccine candidate for commercial development," said Dennis Hruby, Ph.D., SIGA's Vice President for Research.
Group A streptococcal pharyngitis, or strep throat, is one of the most common childhood diseases, affecting approximately 10 million children in the United States each year and a comparable number in Europe. Ineffectively treated, this disease, for which there is no vaccine available, can progress to rheumatic fever, ultimately leading to cardiac damage.
"These grants are an important endorsement of the quality of the underlying science at SIGA Research Labs," said Joshua D. Schein, Ph.D, SIGA's Chief Executive Officer. "Importantly, these awards will assist the Company in its objective of making its biotechnology operations self-sufficient as we continue to explore alternative strategies to maximize shareholder value," he added.
This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties. The development of SIGA's products may differ materially from the Company's expectations. Among the factors that could result in a materially different outcome are the inherent uncertainties accompanying drug discovery, clinical trials and new product development.