Inovio Pharmaceuticals and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative announce partnership

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative announced a follow-on collaboration on Monday to advance new vaccine delivery technologies and malaria vaccine development.

The agreement for clinical development builds on a 2010 research and development collaboration in which Inovio researchers developed novel DNA plasmids to target multiple malaria parasite antigens. Success in rodent studies resulted in an expanded collaboration to test responses in other animal models.

"We are excited to bring this innovative delivery technology into clinical testing to see whether the compelling immune responses seen in animal models translate to humans," David C. Kaslow, MVI's director, said. "Determining if and how these potent immune responses lead to protection against infection with the most deadly form of malaria is a high priority in our efforts to develop a next-generation malaria vaccine."

The DNA-based vaccine approach delivers plasmid DNA by electroporation, a process that deploys controlled electrical impulses to temporarily create pores in a cell's membrane to allow uptake of the synthetic DNA. Once inside, the cell uses DNA instructions to produce proteins that mimic the malaria pathogen and induce a protective immune response.

"We are pleased to work with MVI to advance into a human study with Inovio's plasmid DNA," J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said. "Our synthetic vaccine platform has produced vaccine candidates against HPV, HIV, and influenza targets that have generated potent T cell immune responses observed in human clinical studies. Using the same platform technology, we have now generated encouraging data with preclinical testing of our malaria antigen plasmids. We are excited to work with our collaborators at MVI toward the ultimate goal of conquering malaria."

The follow-on agreement will result in a Phase 1/2a clinical trial that will start in early 2014. If successful, the trial may provide important information to further the development of a highly efficacious malaria vaccine.

PATH's MVI is a global program with a goal of accelerating the development of malaria vaccines and making sure they are available and accessible in the developing world. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., develops SynCon vaccines meant to provide cross-strain protection against emergent pathogens.