Inovio's H7N9 vaccine generates protective antibody responses

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company, announced positive results on Friday in a preclinical study of its H7N9 influenza DNA vaccine.

Interim results from a mouse study showed that Inovio's H7N9 influenza DNA vaccine provided a protective immune response of hemagglutinination inhibition in 100 percent of tested animals. The immune response exceeded what are considered to be protective levels in other common influenza subtypes.

"These results show the advantages of Inovio's DNA vaccines versus traditional approaches in two significant ways: how our DNA vaccines can mount a robust defense against emerging potent viral threats with pandemic potential; and, how rapidly we can create a DNA vaccine construct to address a new global threat," J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said.

Inovio designed, optimized and manufactured the vaccine within two weeks.

In the study, which was a collaboration between scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, mice were vaccinated intramuscularly with two doses that came three weeks apart. The mice developed HAI titers, which are functional antibodies that can protect against viruses. The scientists also observed robust levels of binding antibodies that block viral entry into host cells and inhibit other viral functions.

Inovio said the strong immune responses against an unmatched influenza strain adds to the data indicating the universal protective capability of Inovio's SynCon DNA vaccines.

Since its first human infection earlier this year, the H7N9 influenza virus infected 131 people in Asia and caused 39 deaths.