2019-nCoV Vaccine Candidate Awarded Up to $9 Million

Inovio INO-4800 is a coronavirus vaccine candidate matched to the novel coronavirus outbreak discovered in China

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A Pennsylvania based biotechnology producer of vaccines announced receiving a grant of up to $9 million dollars to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said in a press release published on January 23, 2020, that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) funding will support Inovio's preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine candidate matched to the outbreak strain.

Inovio's participation in this developing effort is based on the ideal suitability of its DNA medicine platform to rapidly develop a vaccine against an emerging virus with pandemic potential, proven vaccine development capabilities and a strong track record of rapidly generating promising countermeasures against previous pandemic threats. 

Inovio was the 1st vaccine producer to advance its vaccine (INO-4700), a related coronavirus, into evaluation in humans. Inovio is currently preparing to initiate a Phase 2 vaccine trial for INO-4700 in the Middle East where most MERS viral outbreaks have occurred.

Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The best-known Coronaviruses are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Previously, CEPI had awarded Inovio a grant of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus.

In a recently published paper in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Inovio's Phase 1 study of its MERS-CoV vaccine demonstrated it was well tolerated and furthermore induced high levels of antibody responses in roughly 95 percent of subjects, while also generating broad-based T cell responses in nearly 90 percent of study participants.

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Durable antibody responses to INO-4700 were also maintained through 60 weeks following dosing.

Richard Hatchett, CEPI's CEO, said in this press release, "Given the rapid global spread of the 2019-nCoV virus the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease.” 

“Our intention with this work is to leverage our work with Inovio on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platform to speed up vaccine development."

Inovio's collaborators in this coronavirus vaccine development include the Wistar Institute, VGXI, a fully owned subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science, and Twist Bioscience.

CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. 

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on rapidly bringing to market precisely designed DNA medicines to treat, cure and/or protect people from diseases associated with HPV, cancer, and infectious diseases. 

Additional 2019-nCoV vaccine candidate news can be found at Precision Vaccinations.