Biotech company closes private placement; receives grant for ricin vaccine

October 10, 2003

DOR BioPharma, Inc., (DOR) announced that it has received overwhelming approval from stockholders to close on the private placement previously announced in July.

This will allow the funds, held in escrow pending the outcome of the shareholder vote, to be released to the company.

The financing was led by OrbiMed Advisors, LLC. and included several other top tier biotech investors, including Perceptive Life Sciences Fund, Wexford Capital, Height Capital, Eagle Advisors, and A.M. Pappas & Company. Paramount Capital, Inc., acted as the placement agent for this transaction.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the financing for (I) continuation of work on the company's drug and vaccine development programs, (II) technology license fees, and (I) general corporate purposes.

Ralph Ellison, CEO of DOR stated, "Obviously we are pleased with the confidence shown us by the stockholders of DOR. This financing, should allow us to aggressively pursue our corporate goals of completing the pivotal phase III trial of our lead product orBec, and to continue work on our bioterror vaccines against Ricin and Botulinum Toxin."

The company also announced that the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) in Dallas, Texas, its partner in the development of its recombinant ricin vaccine program, has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This grant will be used to fund further preclinical studies on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine using a ricin aerosol challenge model. It will also compare formulations of the vaccine designed to induce systemic vs. mucosal immunity. DOR also announced it has been awarded a phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to support further development of the company's MicroVax technology for intranasal and oral delivery of ricin vaccine directed at ease of administration and rapid onset of immunity. The NIAID awarded this grant, which provides approximately $150,000 in funding to DOR over a 6 month period.

This novel ricin vaccine has been developed in the laboratory of Ellen Vitetta, director of the Cancer Immunobiology Center at UT Southwestern. Vitetta stated, "We are very encouraged about the prospects of developing a safe and effective ricin vaccine and the potential for delivering it to mucosal sites where it would stimulate systemic and pulmonary immunity. There is an urgent need to develop effective vaccines against aerosolized toxins which represent potential biothreats to both the military and civilian populations of many countries."

Vitetta's group recently reported their vaccine work in the journal Vaccine, demonstrating that the non-toxic ricin A chain elicits antibodies in animals that protect them against very large doses of ricin. The vaccine candidate consists of only one of the two subunits of the ricin toxin which has been genetically engineered to eliminate both its enzymatic activity and its ability to induce vascular leak syndrome (VLS). Complete elimination of both types of toxicity is likely to render this vaccine very safe at effective doses.

This article was prepared by Bioterrorism Week editors from staff and other reports.