MVI agrees to provide fund for evaluating Inovio's malaria DNA vaccine candidate in non-human primates

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) has agreed to provide follow-on funding to continue evaluation and development of Inovio's malaria DNA vaccine candidate in non-human primates.

“MVI seeks to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and we are pleased to continue working with Inovio's novel DNA vaccine platform and its malaria vaccine approach.”

In the prior MVI-funded feasibility study, Inovio's malaria vaccine candidate induced broad-based immunity to four pre-erythrocytic malaria antigens. In the upcoming non-human primate study, Inovio's SynCon™DNA vaccine platform, which targets sporozoites and the liver stage of the parasite, is delivered using Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery technology. Humoral (antibody) and cellular (T-cell) responses will be assessed in this follow-on program, conducted by the same collaboration of vaccine experts from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Inovio.

Malaria continues to present a major healthcare challenge in the developing world and has been the focus of much attention by global public health agencies. Development of an effective vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum has been a challenge. The parasite undergoes several stages of development during its life cycle and presents different potential target antigens at each stage as it passes through its human and mosquito hosts. Inovio's vaccine candidate targets the pre-erythrocytic stage of the parasite and focuses on induction of both humoral and cellular responses against multiple target antigens. This approach is intended to help prevent infection of liver cells and to further clear those cells that, despite the antibody response, become infected. By targeting the parasite during the first days after infection, this type of vaccine may prevent the onset of malaria symptoms and further inhibit spread of the disease.

Inovio's technology has previously been shown to induce robust T-cell and antibody responses in different animal models of diseases including influenza, small-pox, HIV, and HPV. Data from the recently completed malaria immunogenicity study will be presented at the Second International Malaria Vaccines for the World Conference in Washington, DC (Sep 28-30).

Christian Loucq, MD, Director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, stated: "MVI seeks to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and we are pleased to continue working with Inovio's novel DNA vaccine platform and its malaria vaccine approach."

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO of Inovio, said: "Inovio's proprietary DNA vaccine technology platform has once again induced strong immune responses for a disease with unmet treatment needs — in this case, malaria. We recently announced best-in-class immunogenicity data from our clinical trial for our HPV/cervical cancer DNA vaccine using the same technology platform. We appreciate MVI's shared enthusiasm and commitment to advance the application of this next-generation vaccine technology against this challenging disease."

Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated they may develop severe complications and die. Worldwide, about 2.37 billion people in 87 countries are at risk of the disease. According to WHO, in 2008 there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria and nearly one million deaths - mostly among children living in Africa. A vaccine to prevent malaria infection would complement currently available methods to treat or prevent malaria.


: Inovio Pharmaceuticals


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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