Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) today announced that it is collaborating with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. to advance the development in China of INO-4800, Inovio's vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed numerous people and infected thousands more in China to date. Inovio recently announced that it is developing INO-4800 through Phase 1 human testing in the U.S. to evaluate safety and immunogenicity with the support of an initial grant up to $9 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Inovio plans to rapidly develop INO-4800 against the new coronavirus and has already started preclinical testing and preparations for clinical product manufacturing. The goal of this collaboration is to leverage Advaccine's expertise to run a Phase 1 trial in China in parallel with Inovio's clinical development efforts in the U.S. Inovio and Advaccine will also work together to attract additional grant funding and further collaborations with larger vaccine companies in China to increase the speed of future testing of INO-4800.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's President & CEO, said, "Our collaboration with Beijing Advaccine and its Founder, Emeritus Professor Bin Wang from the prestigious Fudan University and China's premier DNA vaccine expert, will tremendously accelerate our coronavirus vaccine INO-4800 development in China because of its expertise and experience with regulatory authorities and clinical trial management. This collaboration allows us to enter China and deliver our vaccine into the areas where they need it most as soon as possible. Our shared goal is to utilize both company's expertise in developing vaccines for emerging infectious diseases and hopefully achieve an accelerated regulatory approval for INO-4800."
Inovio's participation in this developing effort is based on the ideal suitability of its DNA medicine platform to rapidly develop vaccines against emerging viruses with pandemic potential, proven vaccine development capabilities, and a strong track record of rapidly generating promising countermeasures against previous pandemic threats. Inovio was the first to advance its vaccine (INO-4700) against MERS-CoV, a related coronavirus, into evaluation in humans. Inovio is currently preparing to initiate a Phase 2 trial for INO-4700 in the Middle East where most MERS viral outbreaks have occurred. Those efforts are supported by CEPI funding and partnership.
In a recently published paper in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Inovio's Phase 1 study of INO-4700, its MERS-CoV vaccine, demonstrated it was well-tolerated and furthermore induced high levels of antibody responses in approximately 95% of subjects, while also generating broad-based T cell responses in nearly 90% of study participants. Durable antibody responses to INO-4700 were also maintained through 60 weeks following dosing.
Inovio's other collaborators in this coronavirus vaccine development include the Wistar Institute and VGXI, a fully owned subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science (KSE: 011000).