FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Inovio Pharmaceuticals' H7N9 vaccine protects 100 percent of animals in study

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based vaccine developer, announced on Monday that its H7N9 influenza DNA vaccine protected 100 percent of vaccinated animals against sickness and death in a preclinical study.

Inovio researchers tested a consensus DNA vaccine targeting the H7N9 virus' hemagglutinin influenza antigen in mice using the company's proprietary electroporation-based delivery technology. After receiving two doses, three weeks apart, the mice were exposed to a lethal dose of H7N9 virus. The researchers determined that 100 percent of the vaccinated animals remained healthy without any weight loss, while all unvaccinated mice had significant morbidity and died within eight days.

"We need truly preemptive, broad protection against multiple known and new strains within existing families of viruses," J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said. "Furthermore, history has shown that new viruses and virus subtypes do periodically emerge − H7N9 being just one recent example − and speed in creating a new vaccine will be of the essence in pandemic situations. Inovio is proving its abilities on both counts. This new preclinical data further validates the power of Inovio's DNA vaccines to induce antigen-specific antibody and T-cell responses, which we have also demonstrated across other medical conditions such as pre-cancerous lesions and HIV."

Inovio said the study demonstrated for the first time that an H7N9 flu vaccine can protect against the influenza subtype. Since the newly created universal construct for the subtype was not matched specifically to the virus strain, the results of the study suggest the potential to provide protection against other mutated strains that could emerge within the H7N9 family.

The company said the results also demonstrated the speed at which Inovio can develop and test a DNA vaccine against a new virus or new viral subtype.