DNA-based flu therapy could reduce need for new vaccines

A new DNA-based therapy to be used in the battle against the flu could give current flu vaccine makers "a run for their money," according to the company that's developing it.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., says that the drug, an H5N1 vaccine called SynCon VGX-3400X, is currently in Phase I clinical trials.

The drug "aims to bypass the current requirement for annual strain and subtype-specific influenza vaccines by developing a single vaccine to potentially protect against all strains within multiple targeted subtypes, such as H5N1 and H1N1," the company says.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s president and CEO, says that, “We have already demonstrated protection against multiple unmatched as well as newly emergent strains using combination SynCon vaccines for different influenza subtypes in multiple pre-clinical studies.

"These studies also indicated that our SynCon vaccines induced antigen-specific immune responses far exceeding levels that have been correlated with protection in humans. We look forward to human data from this trial and advancing this potentially paradigm-shifting vaccine approach.”

If approved, the drug might be able to work as a vaccine in the event of future flu pandemics, which would reduce the need to create new vaccines to combat a pandemic.