Inovio Pharmaceuticals Receives U.S. DOD Small Business Innovation Research Grant for Multi-Vaccine DNA Delivery Device Development
Funding to extend intradermal electroporation device capabilities by enabling delivery of multiple DNA vaccines at spatially distinct sites
BLUE BELL, Pa., March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that it has received a U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research Grant to test the feasibility of delivering DNA vaccines by intradermal electroporation simultaneously to two or more spatially distinct sites on the body. The purpose of such a prototype device would be to mitigate potential immune interference that may result from combination vaccines that are formulated together. The device design would also facilitate rapid vaccination against multiple emerging infectious disease or pandemic threats and better meet the demands of quickly vaccinating U.S. troops stationed around the world.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president & CEO, said, "This device would provide a means to painlessly deliver multiple vaccines simultaneously, bringing improved protection against infectious diseases to both military and civilian populations. This collaboration builds on Inovio's strong relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense, in which Inovio is bringing medical innovation to multiple bio-defense projects."
The research effort will seek to determine optimal spatial separation between vaccination sites on the body in order to avoid immune interference between multiple vaccines. The new specialized device resulting from this research will leverage Inovio's latest intradermal DNA vaccine delivery technology. These devices are all based on the company's proprietary electroporation delivery platform, which uses millisecond electrical pulses to dramatically improve cellular uptake of the vaccine and resulting immune responses. Final testing will involve delivery of Lassa and Hantaan virus vaccines simultaneously at spatially distinct sites. Lassa and Hantaan viruses are pathogens on the DOD list of pathogens for development of biological countermeasures. As reported earlier in a peer reviewed publication by Inovio's collaborators, the two DNA vaccines work well individually but lose potency when combined.
The use of in vivo electroporation has focused on intramuscular delivery due to the durability of gene expression achievable from this tissue. However, skin is an attractive target tissue for delivering DNA vaccines for multiple reasons: skin is the largest organ of the human body and readily accessible; it is the tissue most capable of developing a broad immune response to antigens; it is less invasive as there is little or no penetration of the skin; and it avoids stimulation of muscle tissue. Therefore, while Inovio's current intramuscular delivery technologies are well tolerated and very effective, the company is also advancing device development to achieve various desirable attributes. Its intradermal electroporation device penetrates to no more than 3 mm, compared to intramuscular devices that go deeper. Its minimally invasive surface electroporation device sits on the surface of the skin and uses a virtually undetectable scratch to facilitate delivery of the vaccine. With the advancement of these devices, Inovio's aim is to make electroporation delivery amenable to mass prophylactic vaccination by decreasing dose levels, increasing tolerability of the vaccination, and increasing the breadth of viable vaccine targets.
About Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Inovio is developing a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, to treat and prevent cancers and infectious diseases. Its SynCon(TM) vaccines are designed to provide broad cross-strain protection against known as well as newly emergent strains of pathogens such as influenza. These vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery devices, have been shown to be safe and generate significant immune responses. Inovio's clinical programs include three separate programs in Phase II clinical studies, including VGX-3100 for treating cervical dysplasia and cancer. Other Inovio clinical programs include those for avian flu (preventive) and HIV vaccines (both preventive and therapeutic). Inovio is developing universal influenza and other vaccines in collaboration with scientists from the University of Pennsylvania. Other partners and collaborators include Merck, ChronTech, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, NIH, HIV Vaccines Trial Network, University of Southampton, and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. More information is available at www.inovio.com.