In a small study, an experimental therapeutic cervical cancer vaccine developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals ($INO) appeared to spur a surge in T cells, leading the investigators to claim a breakthrough on DNA vaccines.
Inovio recruited 18 women who had been previously treated for lesions for the early-stage study of VGX-3100, which is made with DNA armed with the genetic code needed to spark the creation of T cells. The T cells were then extracted and mixed with cells containing tumor protein, which was then used in a lab setting to wipe out cancerous cells. And the investigators say that the DNA vaccine continued to spur development of T cells for at least 9 months, when the study ended.
"This is the first paper that we're aware of that demonstrates that a DNA vaccine on its own in humans could produce this quality or magnitude of immunity," David Weiner, a University of Pennsylvania professor who helped launched a predecessor company to Inovio, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It opens up a lot of exciting avenues of study." Weiner heads Inovio's scientific board.
The proof-of-concept data on the approach, though, is a long way from providing solid efficacy data. A Phase II study is under way now. Results are due by the end of 2013.
Inovio shares were trading this morning at 71 cents.
- here's the press release
- read the story from the Philadelphia Inquirer