Inovio Biomedical and NIH Vaccine Research Center Sign Research Collaboration Agreement to Develop Universal Influenza Vaccines
Inovio Expands Collaboration Network for Influenza Program
SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 10, 2009-- Inovio Biomedical Corporation (NYSE Amex:INO), a leader in DNA vaccine design, development and delivery, announced today it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) to develop influenza vaccines. Under the agreement, the VRC and Inovio will pool technologies to develop universal influenza vaccines as well as rapidly advance development of vaccine candidates targeting the emerging pandemic 2009 H1N1 swine flu strains.
Inovio has established strong collaborative relationships with some of the world's top academic and research institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada, to leverage the company's R&D resources to develop universal flu vaccine programs. In these studies with the VRC, electroporation-based delivery of novel DNA vaccines against influenza will be tested in pre-clinical animal studies to measure immune and protective responses. Inovio will provide electroporation devices and procedures based on its proprietary intradermal electroporation technology. Inovio and the VRC will provide DNA vaccine plasmids encoding influenza antigens. Challenge studies in animal models and immunological analyses will be performed at the VRC; both Inovio and the VRC will evaluate the results. Successful completion of the pre-clinical evaluation may lead to selection of vaccine candidates for further clinical development.
The challenge of current vaccine technology is the inability to create influenza vaccines that can protect against new, unmatched strains that may subsequently emerge - this limitation is highlighted by the inability of existing seasonal influenza vaccines to protect against the present swine origin influenza A/H1N1 and recognition that the necessary development and manufacturing period to produce a strain-specific vaccine is long enough to enable such an influenza virus to quickly spread. Inovio's focus in its influenza programs is to develop universal influenza vaccines able to provide broader protective capabilities against perpetually emerging new strains. The company previously reported data from prior and ongoing pre-clinical studies in pig models in which the SynConTM based H1N1 vaccines achieved hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers above the protection threshold in 100% of the vaccinated animals against different strains of influenza virus, including an existing swine influenza virus (A/Iowa/35233/1999) and a currently circulating swine influenza A/H1N1 virus (Swine A/Mexico/InDRE4487/2009). The company previously reported data from prior and ongoing pre-clinical studies in mouse models in which the SynConTM based H1N1 vaccines provided 100% protection in a lethal challenge study against an unmatched H1N1 virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu, and showed in a separate study that vaccinated mice recovered from virus infection-induced morbidity significantly faster compared to non-immunized control mice when the mice were challenged with another currently circulating swine influenza A/H1N1 virus strain (A/Canada/AB/RV1532/2009).
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's CEO, said, "We are pleased to share technology and collaborate with the VRC in the development of universal influenza vaccines. There is a public health need to rapidly develop vaccines targeting the swine origin influenza A/H1N1 in particular and, more generally, to develop universal influenza vaccines. The VRC is a world leader in vaccine research and clinical development and this agreement further expands our global collaboration network for influenza vaccines."
Inovio's novel SynConTM technology enables the company to design DNA-based vaccines with the potential to broadly protect against unmatched sub-types and strains of pathogens and provide the opportunity to have vaccines on hand against new strains that are perpetually emerging, as in the case of influenza. Inovio has created SynConTM DNA vaccines based on influenza HA, NA, and NP proteins from strains H1N1, H2N2, H3N2, and H5N1, which make up the majority of seasonal and pandemic influenza. A resulting vaccine could target seasonal as well as pandemic-potential influenza strains such as avian influenza and swine flu, which has already been designated pandemic status. Significantly, being based on a common set of antigens derived from a broad range of flu strains, such a universal vaccine would have the potential to provide greater protection against evolving, unmatched flu strains.
About the Vaccine Research Center
The VRC is a Center within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, whose mission is to conduct research that facilitates the development of effective vaccines for human disease. More information about the VRC can be found at http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/about/organization/vrc
About Inovio Biomedical Corporation
Inovio Biomedical is engaged in the design, development, and delivery of a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, focused on cancers and infectious diseases. The company's SynConTM technology enables the design of DNA-based vaccines capable of providing cross-protection against new, unmatched strains of pathogens such as influenza. Inovio's proprietary electroporation-based DNA vaccine delivery technology has been shown by initial human data to safely and significantly increase gene expression and immune responses. Inovio's clinical programs include HPV/cervical cancer (therapeutic) and HIV vaccines. An IND has been filed for an avian influenza vaccine. Inovio is developing its universal and avian influenza vaccines in collaboration with scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and the National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Other partners and collaborators include Merck, Tripep, University of Southampton, University of Pennsylvania, and HIV Vaccines Trial Network. Inovio's product candidates and technologies are protected by an extensive global intellectual property portfolio. More information is available at www.inovio.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to our plans to develop electroporation-based drug and gene delivery technologies and DNA vaccines. Actual events or results may differ from the expectations set forth herein as a result of a number of factors, including uncertainties inherent in pre-clinical studies, clinical trials and product development programs (including, but not limited to, the fact that pre-clinical and clinical results referenced in this release may not be indicative of results achievable in other trials or for other indications, that results from one study may not necessarily be reflected or supported by the results of other similar studies and that results from an animal study may not be indicative of results achievable in human studies), the availability of funding to support continuing research and studies in an effort to prove safety and efficacy of electroporation technology as a delivery mechanism or develop viable DNA vaccines, the availability or potential availability of alternative therapies or treatments for the conditions targeted by the company or its collaborators, including alternatives that may be more efficacious or cost-effective than any therapy or treatment that the company and its collaborators hope to develop, evaluation of potential opportunities, issues involving patents and whether they or licenses to them will provide the company with meaningful protection from others using the covered technologies, whether such proprietary rights are enforceable or defensible or infringe or allegedly infringe on rights of others or can withstand claims of invalidity and whether the company can finance or devote other significant resources that may be necessary to prosecute, protect or defend them, the level of corporate expenditures, assessments of the company's combined technology by potential corporate or other partners or collaborators, capital market conditions, our ability to successfully integrate Inovio and VGX Pharmaceuticals, the impact of government healthcare proposals, our ability to maintain listing of our common stock under the rules and regulations of the NYSE Amex and other factors set forth in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, our Form 10-Q for the three months ended March 31, 2009, and other regulatory filings from time to time, including our current report on Form 8-K reporting the closing of the merger transaction with VGX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. There can be no assurance that any product in Inovio's pipeline will be successfully developed or manufactured, that final results of clinical studies will be supportive of regulatory approvals required to market licensed products, or that any of the forward-looking information provided herein will be proven accurate.