SAN DIEGO, May 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: SRNE) today announced that it has received an Advanced Technology Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The peer-reviewed grant was awarded to support the Company's program to generate and develop novel antibody therapeutics and vaccines 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 3 years.
"It is clear that the NIH is highly motivated to fund novel approaches to tackling the serious healthcare burden of MRSA. We believe our program to develop potential vaccines and antibody therapeutics against MRSA holds great clinical promise because of the high morbidity and mortality caused by this pathogen and the limited treatment options available today," said Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sorrento Therapeutics.
Sorrento Therapeutics' MRSA program targets specific auto-inducing peptides (AIPs) central to the quorum sensing system of S. aureus, which induces bacterial virulence. Masking these AIPs leads to a disruption of bacterial communication ("quorum quenching") and suppresses virulence. In recommending the grant application for funding, expert panel reviewers noted that targeting quorum sensing and the virulence factors of S. aureus represented a paradigm shift, which could result in fewer side effects than conventional drug therapies. Th