Inovio secures $24m option grant from DARPA to advance Ebola program development

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has exercised its option to provide an additional $24 million to support the Inovio Pharmaceuticals-led development of multiple treatment and prevention approaches against Ebola.

The option exercise, part of the $45 million Ebola program grant announced in April when Inovio received an initial $21 million award, was contingent upon Inovio successfully leading the completion of certain pre-clinical and clinical development milestones.

DARPA has funded this program to develop a DNA-based vaccine against Ebola, a therapeutic DNA-based monoclonal antibody product (dMAb™) to treat Ebola infection, and a conventional monoclonal antibody to treat Ebola.

In the intervening period from the grant award in April, Inovio and its collaborators have accomplished:

Full enrollment of 75 volunteers for the phase I clinical study for Inovio's Ebola vaccine, INO-4212. Interim safety and immune response data is expected to be reported in 4Q 2015.

Complete protection of vaccinated monkeys from a lethal Ebola virus challenge.

Significant pre-clinical proof-of-concept demonstrated in animal models for the potential of its dMAb technology including with Ebola dMAb constructs. Screening of different Ebola dMAbs in pre-clinical studies is ongoing. Inovio recently reported the publication of its anti-dengue dMAb demonstrating protection against lethal challenge.

Inovio president and CEO Joseph Kim said: "Inovio is executing all aspects of the Ebola program as planned. The DARPA program is funding an accelerated R&D program that is simultaneously working on three different counter-measures. Access to the full DARPA funding based on the accomplishment of certain program milestones allows Inovio and its collaborators to carry out all the elements of the proposal as rapidly as possible."

Inovio is leading a world-class collaboration of industry and academic partners in an effort to prevent and treat Ebola including: MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca; GeneOne Life Sciences of Korea (KSE: 011000) and its U.S. manufacturing subsidiary, VGXI, Inc.; the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and researchers at Emory University and Vanderbilt University.

DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense that creates and supports novel technologies important for national security, has selected Inovio to develop products that if successful can add to the arsenal of rapid response capabilities. Inovio's Ebola program is initially targeted to treat first responders and Ebola-infected health care workers and patients, but could potentially be widely utilized to stem the spread of an Ebola outbreak.

Published 21 September 2015

Source: Company Press Release

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