Inovio Biomedical is partnering with the NIH Vaccine Research Center (VRC) to develop both universal DNA-based flu vaccines and vaccines targeting the H1N1 swine flu virus strain.
Both Inovio and VRC will provide DNA vaccine plasmids encoding influenza antigens. Inovio will provide its electroporation devices and procedures for delivery, and the VRC will carry out animal challenge studies and immunological analyses.
Inovio is exploiting its SynConTM technology to derive synthetic consensus genes that look similar to a diverse panel of viral antigens. The aim is to generate DNA vaccine constructs that are unaffected by viral genetic shift and drift and so remain effective against unmatched strains of a virus.
Inovio has filed an IND for human volunteer trials with its lead avian influenza (bird flu) candidate, VGX-3400, which targets subtype H5N1. The company’s in-house pipeline also includes a therapeutic DNA vaccine against cervical cancer, which is currently in Phase I trials. Influenza candidates for H1N1 strains including swine-origin influenza A/H1N1 are in progress.
Inovio is separatley collaborating on the development of HIV vaccines with partners including the HIV Trials Network, the NIH/NIAID, and the University of Pennsylvania, which developed the technology underlying Inoivio’s lead Pennvax™ family of DNA-based preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccines. Initial clinical development is evaluating candidates either as stand-alone entities or in combination with electroporation delivery and/or various cytokine and chemokine adjuvants.
The company claims its electroporation-based DNA delivery systems can increase the cellular uptake of an agent over 1,000-fold and boost expression levels of DNA vaccines by 100 times or more compared with plasmid DNA delivered without other enhancements. Earlier in August new clinical data was released representing what inovio believes is the first demonstration of a significantly increased and persistent level of antibody response generated by a DNA vaccine delivered using electroporation.
The results from a clinical study conducted by Inovio’s collaborators at the U.K.’s University of Southampton and Institute of Cancer Research related to a novel DNA vaccine based on a prostate specific membrane antigen fused to a tetanus toxin (DOM). The data was published in Human Gene Therapy July 20 in a paper entitled, “DNA vaccination with electroporation induces increased antibody responses in patients with prostate cancer.”