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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at mmacagnone@trentonian.com or follow me @awisefool.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Local pharmaceutical company researches vaccine for ricin


One Princeton company has been working on a vaccine to protect people from the toxic effects of the poison ricin that has splashed across the headlines this month.
Earlier this month, police found several letters addressed to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R- Miss.) and earlier to Mississippi Judge Sadie Holland, that tested positive for ricin. The FBI initially made an arrest in the case, but released the man and the investigation is ongoing.
Soligenix Inc., has been developing a vaccine for ricin exposure that allows the body to create antibodies that respond to the toxin and fight it. Christopher Schaber, the company’s president and CEO, said the vaccine has been able to reach human testing for the vaccine, called RiVax.
“It’s a pretty lethal toxin ... relatively easy to get the materials and relatively easy for people to make,” he said. He also said exposure to the toxin can be lethal within hours.
“The best way to deal with it is to prevent it,” he said.
The company’s efforts, which Schaber said have gone on for nearly a decade, have been largely based on government grants — also the vaccine’s most likely customer.
Schaber said after 9/11 investors started looking into biodefense as an industry, but could not find a stable market for the products. He said such biopharmaceuticals are geared toward unpredictable emergencies, after all.
You can read the full story here.

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