INOVIO (NASDAQ:INO), a biotechnology company focused on bringing to market precisely designed DNA medicines to treat and protect people from infectious diseases and cancer, today announced that it has received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with the Phase 2 segment of its planned Phase 2/3 clinical trial for INO-4800, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The planned Phase 2/3 clinical trial, called INNOVATE (INOVIO INO-4800 Vaccine Trial for Efficacy), is a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled safety and efficacy trial of INO-4800 to be conducted in adults in the U.S. The INNOVATE trial will be funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) in coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASD (HA)) and the Defense Health Agency (DHA).
The Phase 2 segment of the trial is designed to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of INO-4800 in a 2-dose regimen (1.0 mg or 2.0 mg), in a three-to-one randomization to receive either INO-4800 or placebo for each dose to confirm the more appropriate dose(s) for each of three age groups with high risks of infection (18-50 years, 51-64 years and 65 years and older) for the subsequent Phase 3 efficacy evaluation. The Phase 3 segment of the INNOVATE trial remains on partial clinical hold until INOVIO satisfactorily resolves the FDA's remaining questions related to the CELLECTRA® 2000 device that will be used to deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin. The company plans to resolve the remaining device questions during the conduct of Phase 2 segment and prior to the start of the Phase 3 segment of the trial.
"I am extremely proud of the INOVIO team, which has been working tirelessly to develop a safe and effective vaccine in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiation of our Phase 2 trial marks a pivotal milestone for INO-4800," said INOVIO's President and CEO, Dr. J. Joseph Kim. "We are especially pleased to continue our partnership with the DoD to advance the development of INO-4800 for active duty service members and civilian personnel and are grateful for the Department's continued confidence in our technology to combat COVID-19."
Dr. Kim continued, "INO-4800's key differentiators are the safety and tolerability data we have observed thus far, as well as its excellent thermostability profile – making it possible to manufacture at scale and transport without frozen cold chain requirements. INO-4800 also maintains the ability to be safely re-administered and is differentiated by its ability to stimulate both CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses."
The FDA's authorization to proceed is based on its review of INOVIO's non-clinical data, device information and interim Phase 1 safety and immunogenicity data as well as its design and plans for the Phase 2 and Phase 3 segments of the planned clinical trial. The Phase 2 segment of the trial is expected to enroll approximately 400 participants at up to 17 U.S. sites to evaluate safety and immunogenicity in order to confirm the dose(s) for the subsequent efficacy evaluation planned for the Phase 3 segment.
The DoD has agreed to provide funding for both the Phase 2 and Phase 3 segments of the INNOVATE clinical trial, in addition to the $71 million of funding previously announced in June for the large-scale manufacture of the company's proprietary smart device CELLECTRA® 3PSP and the procurement of CELLECTRA® 2000 devices.
About the INO-4800 "INNOVATE" Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial
The lead Principal Investigator for the INNOVATE trial is Dr. Pablo Tebas, Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The Phase 2 segment of the trial is designed to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of INO-4800 in a 2-dose regimen (1.0 mg or 2.0 mg), in a three-to-one randomization to receive either INO-4800 or placebo for each dose, to confirm the more appropriate dose(s) for each of three age groups (18-50 years, 51-64 years and 65 years and older) for the subsequent Phase 3 efficacy evaluation. The company intends to work diligently to ensure diversity in enrollment, targeting specific populations that are working or residing in environments with high infection rates and/or areas where there is greater risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, for whom exposure may be relatively prolonged or for whom personal protective equipment (PPE) may be inconsistently used, especially in confined settings.
In the Phase 3 segment of the trial, INOVIO intends to enroll healthy men and non-pregnant women 18 years and older, to evaluate the efficacy of the proposed dose(s) based on the data from the Phase 2 evaluation. Participants will be enrolled in a one-to-one randomization to receive either INO-4800 or a placebo. The Phase 3 segment will be case-driven with the final number of enrollees to be determined by the incidence of COVID-19 during the Phase 3 segment. The primary endpoint of the Phase 3 segment will be virologically confirmed COVID-19 disease.