SOURCE: DOR BioPharma, Inc.

May 08, 2008 06:00 ET

DOR BioPharma Acquires Option for Third-Generation Anthrax Vaccine From Harvard University

EWING, NJ--(Marketwire - May 8, 2008) - DOR BioPharma, Inc. (OTCBB: DORB) ("DOR" or the "Company"), a late-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has entered into a one-year exclusive option with the President and Fellows of Harvard College to license analogues of anthrax toxin for prospective use in vaccines against anthrax, a potentially fatal disease caused by the spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The option, which was obtained through negotiation with Harvard University's Office of Technology Development, encompasses an issued U.S. patent that covers engineered variants of protective antigen (PA) developed in the Harvard Medical School laboratory of Dr. John Collier. PA is the principal determinant of protective immunity to anthrax and is being developed for second- and third-generation anthrax vaccines.

Overall concern about the use of anthrax spores, as well as ricin toxin, as weapons of bioterrorism has been highlighted in a recently released FBI Bioterror report, entitled Terrorism 2002-2005, as "the most prevalent agents involved in WMD investigations" (

There has been a major effort on the part of the federal government to develop vaccines for use both pre- and post-exposure to improve upon the vaccine currently in use. This vaccine, known as AVA (for anthrax vaccine adsorbed), consists of a defined, but impure mixture of bacterial components. The vaccine is FDA approved, but requires multiple injections followed by annual boosters. Vaccines such as AVA or those based on the purified, recombinant anthrax toxin component PA (rPA) induce antibodies that neutralize anthrax holotoxin and can strongly protect animals from inhaled anthrax spores.

Several of the protein variants developed by Dr. Collier have been shown to be more immunogenic than native rPA, perhaps because they are processed more efficiently by cellular antigen processing pathways. DOR believes that it will be able to develop the Collier anthrax vaccine into one with an improved stability profile, an issue that has proven challenging in the development of other anthrax vaccines.

Dr. Collier commented: "One of the key features of a successor to AVA vaccine will be a vaccine that not only has long-term stability, but one that can be administered in the fewest possible doses to induce the highest level of toxin neutralizing antibodies."

"Access to the engineered anthrax PA variants as candidate vaccines makes an excellent fit into our biodefense portfolio and should allow us to make key strides in our biodefense development initiatives," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and CEO of DOR BioPharma. "To our knowledge, we are now the only company in the world developing vaccines against the top two bioterror threats, as recently identified by the FBI. In keeping with our current biodefense development model, our strategy will be to quickly file for grants to further develop the anthrax vaccine candidate. We believe that the engineered PA variants can be used in platform technologies for delivery of single use or combination biodefense vaccines and will be useful for generating stable vaccines that induce antibodies in fewer doses than the conventional AVA vaccine or other rPA vaccines currently under development. A significant improvement for stockpiled vaccines would be extended stability, which is not expected from conventional vaccines. We believe that one of these antigens, in particular, is a viable candidate for a third-generation anthrax vaccine, since a large-scale production methodology for it has already been performed. Assuming long-term stability can be met, the developed vaccine could be stockpiled for general use and for post-exposure prophylaxis. We also envision expanding our biodefense business into development of countermeasures against other more common infectious diseases."

About Anthrax

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease that is easily transmitted to humans by environmentally durable spores that are produced by Bacillus anthracis. Because the spores are robust and contagious, anthrax is considered a Category A bioterror threat. Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. Inhaled spores can cause a rapidly progressing form of anthrax since the spores are transported to lymph nodes near the lungs where they germinate, releasing vegetative bacteria into the bloodstream. Bacteria synthesize a complex series of toxin components that make up anthrax toxin, resulting in overwhelming toxemia that causes shock and organ failure. Treatment of anthrax involves long-term antibiotic therapy, since ungerminated spores can lie dormant in the lungs for up to 60 days. Only a few inhaled spores can cause inhalational anthrax. Once the toxin has entered the bloodstream, antibiotics are ineffective, and only toxin-specific therapy is effective. Passively transferred antibodies can neutralize anthrax toxins and can be used post-exposure in conjunction with antibiotics. Because of the long residence time of spores in the lung, it is possible to vaccinate post-exposure, but the onset of neutralizing antibodies must occur during the period of antibiotic therapy.

About DOR BioPharma, Inc.

DOR BioPharma, Inc. (DOR) is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company developing products to treat life-threatening side effects of cancer treatments and serious gastrointestinal diseases, and vaccines for certain bioterrorism agents. DOR's lead product, orBec® (oral beclomethasone dipropionate or BDP), is a potent, locally acting corticosteroid being developed for the treatment of gastrointestinal Graft-versus-Host disease (GI GVHD), a common and potentially life-threatening complication of bone marrow transplantation. DOR filed a New Drug Application for orBec® with the FDA for the treatment of acute GI GVHD and received a not approvable letter in which the FDA has requested data from a confirmatory Phase 3 clinical trial to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of orBec®. A Marketing Authorization Application with the European Medicines Evaluation Agency has also been validated and is under review. orBec® is currently the subject of an NIH-supported, Phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the prevention of acute GVHD. Oral BDP may also have application in treating other gastrointestinal disorders characterized by severe inflammation. DOR has initiated a development program with its Lipid Polymer Micelle (LPM™) drug delivery technology for the oral delivery of leuprolide for the treatment of prostate cancer and endometriosis.

Through its Biodefense Division, DOR is developing biomedical countermeasures pursuant to the Project BioShield Act of 2004. DOR's biodefense products in development are recombinant subunit vaccines designed to protect against the lethal effects of exposure to ricin toxin, botulinum toxin and anthrax. DOR's ricin toxin vaccine, RiVax™, has been shown to be well tolerated and immunogenic in a Phase 1 clinical trial in normal volunteers.

For further information regarding DOR BioPharma, Inc., please visit the Company's website located at

This press release contains forward-looking statements, within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, that reflect DOR BioPharma, Inc.'s current expectations about its future results, performance, prospects and opportunities, including statements regarding the potential use of orBec® for the treatment of gastrointestinal GVHD and the prospects for regulatory filings for orBec®. Where possible, DOR has tried to identify these forward-looking statements by using words such as "anticipates," "believes," "intends," or similar expressions. These statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results in future periods to differ materially from what is expressed in, or implied by, these statements. DOR cannot assure you that it will be able to successfully develop or commercialize products based on its technology, including orBec®, particularly in light of the significant uncertainty inherent in developing vaccines against bioterror threats, manufacturing and conducting preclinical and clinical trials of vaccines, and obtaining regulatory approvals, that its technologies will prove to be safe and effective, that its cash expenditures will not exceed projected levels, that it will be able to obtain future financing or funds when needed, that product development and commercialization efforts will not be reduced or discontinued due to difficulties or delays in clinical trials or due to lack of progress or positive results from research and development efforts, that it will be able to successfully obtain any further grants and awards, maintain its existing grants which are subject to performance, enter into any biodefense procurement contracts with the US Government or other countries, that the US Congress may not pass any legislation that would provide additional funding for the Project BioShield program, that it will be able to patent, register or protect its technology from challenge and products from competition or maintain or expand its license agreements with its current licensors, or that its business strategy will be successful. Important factors which may affect the future use of orBec® for gastrointestinal GVHD include the risks that: the FDA's requirement that DOR conduct additional clinical trials to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of orBec® will take a significant amount of time and money to complete and positive results leading to regulatory approval cannot be assumed; DOR is dependent on the expertise, effort, priorities and contractual obligations of third parties in the clinical trials, manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of its products; orBec® may not gain market acceptance if it is eventually approved by the FDA; and others may develop technologies or products superior to orBec®. These and other factors are described from time to time in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, DOR's most recent reports on Form 10-QSB and Form 10-KSB. DOR assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events, and changes in circumstances or for any other reason.