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.