Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been granted with almost 9 million American Dollars to deal with the recently emerged Chinese flu-like virus (Coronavirus). The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has made this contribution to help Inovio in developing a vaccine against this newly discovered type of Coronavirus.
Development of the INO-4800 Vaccine Against Novel Coronavirus
This new coronavirus type (2019-nCoV) was discovered for the first time in the Chinese city, Wuhan. And up till now, it has not only infected over 400 people in China but also resulted in the death of many. Currently, the cases of the same Chinese flu-like virus were also reported in some other areas like Taiwan and the Philippines.
This 9 million dollar funding provided by CEPI will aid Inovio in conducting Phase 1 human testing for the preclinical and clinical development of the INO-4800 – a vaccine against the Coronavirus strain that has led to flu-like illness in China.
Previously, Inovio was also granted by CEPI with nearly 56 million dollars to develop a vaccine against another type of Coronavirus, causing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Lassa fever.
Inovio’s Contribution to the Development of Different Vaccines
Inovio’s contribution towards making this effort depends upon its proven competencies for vaccine development and the capability of its DNA medicine platform to quickly develop a vaccine for a virus with pandemic threats.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals is the first biotechnology company that has made progress related to its MERS-CoV vaccine (INO-4700) to evaluate it in humans. Right now, the company is also planning to start a Phase 2 trial for this INO-4700 vaccine in regions like the Middle East that have reported most MERS-linked Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks.
The findings of the Phase 1 study conducted by Inovio for its MERS-CoV vaccine have been presented in Lancet Infectious Diseases. The results revealed that the vaccine was well tolerated in the study participants.
Almost 90 percent of the participants depicted broad-based T cell responses, whereas, 95 percent showed an increase in the levels of antibody responses after the use of this MERS-CoV vaccine. Furthermore, sustainability in the robust antibody responses was also observed for almost 60 weeks after vaccination.
According to CEPI’s CEO, Richard Hatchett, there is a rapid need for taking an action against this disease, keeping in mind the pandemic potential of this Chinese flu-like virus (2019-nCoV). The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations expects that this funding will aid Inovio in accelerating the process of vaccine development.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim is the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Inovio Pharmaceuticals. Its an honor for Inovio to expand its collaboration with CEPI in an effort to deal with the global threat caused by this emerging Chinese flu-like coronavirus, said Dr. Kim.
He added that at present, Inovia’s DNA medicine platform is the best way to combat emerging viral pandemics by rapid vaccine development.