Soligenix Shares Results of Phase 3 Clinical Trial of SGX942 for Oral Mucositis

By News Release


Soligenix Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where there is an unmet medical need, announced preliminary top-line results for its pivotal Phase 3 DOM-INNATE (Dusquetide treatment in Oral Mucositis – by modulating INNATE Immunity) trial evaluating SGX942 (dusquetide) in the treatment of severe oral mucositis (SOM) in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) receiving chemoradiation. 

The study enrolled 268 patients randomized 1:1 to receive either SGX942 or placebo.  The primary endpoint of median duration of SOM did not achieve the pre-specified criterion for statistical significance (p≤0.05); although biological activity was observed with a 56% reduction in the median duration of SOM from 18 days in the placebo group to 8 days in the SGX942 treatment group.  Despite this clinically meaningful improvement, the variability in the distribution of the data yielded a p-value that was not statistically significant.

Other secondary endpoints supported the biological activity of dusquetide, including a statistically significant 50% reduction in the duration of SOM in the per-protocol population, which decreased from 18 days in the placebo group to 9 days in the SGX942 treatment group (p=0.049), consistent with the findings in the Phase 2 trial.  Similarly, incidence of SOM also followed this biological trend as seen in the Phase 2 study, decreasing by 16% in the SGX942 treatment group relative to the placebo group in the per-protocol population.  The per-protocol population was defined as the population receiving a minimum of 55 Gy radiation and at least 10 doses of study drug (placebo or SGX942) throughout the intended treatment period, with no major protocol deviations (e.g. breaks in study drug administration longer than 8 days between successive doses).  

"We are obviously very disappointed with the unanticipated outcome of the study," stated Christopher J. Schaber, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Soligenix. "Despite the fact that SGX942 demonstrated clinically meaningful reductions in oral mucositis consistent with the Phase 2 study, the Phase 3 trial did not achieve the statistically significant benefit we expected. Over the coming weeks, we will be analyzing the data to better determine why the study did not meet expectations.  If there is any clarity gained from further analysis of the dataset, especially with respect to specific subsets of patients that may benefit from SGX942 therapy, we will certainly communicate our findings and explore follow-up discussions with the FDA and the EMA."  

Dr. Schaber continued, "With approximately $20 million of cash and our non-dilutive government funding, we will evaluate strategic options as we continue to execute on the multiple development programs across our rare disease pipeline.  Most importantly, this will include the preparation of a New Drug Application for SGX301 in the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, which demonstrated statistical significance in its pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial earlier this year, as well as continuing activities towards SGX301 U.S. commercialization where we expect peak annual sales to exceed $75 million."

Oral Mucositis

Mucositis is the clinical term for damage done to the mucosa by anticancer therapies. It can occur in any mucosal region, but is most commonly associated with the mouth, followed by the small intestine. It is estimated, based upon review of historic published studies and reports and an interpolation of data on the incidence of mucositis, that mucositis affects approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. per year and occurs in 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy. Mucositis can be severely debilitating and can lead to infection, sepsis, the need for parenteral nutrition and narcotic analgesia. The gastrointestinal damage causes severe diarrhea. These symptoms can limit the doses and duration of cancer treatment, leading to sub-optimal treatment outcomes.

The mechanisms of mucositis have been extensively studied and have been recently linked to the interaction of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with the innate defense system. Bacterial infection of the ulcerative lesions is now regarded as a secondary consequence of dysregulated local inflammation triggered by therapy-induced cell death, rather than as the primary cause of the lesions.

It is estimated, based upon review of historic published studies and reports and an interpolation of data on the incidence of oral mucositis, that oral mucositis in HNC is a subpopulation of approximately 90,000 patients in the U.S., with a comparable number in Europe. Oral mucositis almost always occurs in patients with HNC treated with CRT and is severe, causing inability to eat and/or drink, in >80% of patients. It is common (40-100% incidence) in patients undergoing high dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation, where the incidence and severity of oral mucositis depends greatly on the nature of the conditioning regimen used for myeloablation.

In the pediatric population, head and neck cancer is a rarer occurrence and is caused by different underlying pathologies. The major types of HNC in children are lymphoma, sarcomas (including rhabdomyosarcomas), and neuroblastoma rather than squamous cell carcinoma, the major type of adult HNC cancers. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), especially allogeneic transplantation with higher risk of oral mucositis, is more frequently used in the pediatric population than in adults when treating a number of primary tumor types, as seen in leukemia and lymphoma.  Both treatment of HNC and HSCT are associated with high risk of oral mucositis in the pediatric population.

Oral mucositis remains an area of unmet medical need where there are currently no approved drug therapies in the context of any solid tissue tumors.  

Phase 3 DOM-INNATE Study

This multinational, placebo-controlled, randomized study enrolled 268 subjects with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx, scheduled to receive a minimum total cumulative radiation dose of 55 Gy fractionated as 2.0-2.2 Gy per day with concomitant cisplatin chemotherapy given as a dose of 80-100 mg/m2 every third week. Subjects were randomized to receive either 1.5 mg/kg SGX942 or placebo given twice a week during and for two weeks following completion of CRT.  The primary endpoint for the study is the median duration of SOM, assessed by oral examination at each treatment visit and then through six weeks following completion of CRT. Oral mucositis is evaluated using the WHO (World Health Organization) Grading system. SOM is defined as a WHO Grade of ≥3.  A positive interim analysis was conducted in August 2019, resulting in the recommended addition of 35 subjects / group to the study to maintain 90% power. Subjects are being followed for an additional 12 months after the completion of treatment. Soligenix has been working with leading oncology centers internationally, a number of which participated in the Phase 2 study.


Dusquetide (the active ingredient in SGX942) is an innate defense regulator (IDR), a new class of short, synthetic peptides. It has a novel mechanism of action whereby it modulates the body's reaction to both injury and infection towards an anti-inflammatory, anti-infective and tissue healing response. IDRs have no direct antibiotic activity but, by modulating the host's innate immune system responses, increase survival after infections caused by a broad range of bacterial Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens. It also accelerates resolution of tissue damage following exposure to a variety of agents including bacterial pathogens, trauma and chemo- and/or radiation therapy. Preclinical efficacy and safety has been demonstrated in numerous animal disease models including mucositis, colitis, macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) as well as bacterial infections, including melioidosis.

SGX942 has demonstrated safety in a Phase 1 clinical study in 84 healthy human volunteers. Positive efficacy results were demonstrated in an exploratory Phase 2 clinical study in 111 patients with oral mucositis due to CRT for HNC.

SGX942 has received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for the treatment of oral mucositis as a result of radiation and/or chemotherapy treatment in HNC patients, as well as Promising Innovative Medicine designation in the United Kingdom by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for the treatment of SOM in HNC patients receiving CRT. In addition, products containing the same active ingredient, dusquetide, have been granted Fast Track Designation as an adjunctive therapy with other antibacterial drugs, for the treatment of melioidosis and Orphan Drug Designations in the treatment of MAS and the treatment of acute radiation syndrome.

Soligenix has a strong intellectual property position in the IDR technology platform, including composition of matter for dusquetide and related analogs. Dusquetide was developed pursuant to discoveries made by Professors B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Robert Hancock, PhD of the University of British Columbia, Canada. Soligenix has received partial funding from NIH for its oral mucositis clinical studies. The Phase 2 study was supported with a Phase I SBIR grant (#R43DE024032) award, with the Phase 3 study supported by a Phase II SBIR grant (#R44DE024032) award.

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Soligenix Shares Results of Phase 3 Clinical Trial of SGX942 for Oral Mucositis .  Appl Rad Oncol. 

By News Release| December 28, 2020

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