Inovio begins clinical trials on hepatitis C vaccine

Phase one clinical trials on the safety and tolerability of a vaccine for chronic hepatitis C that was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., began at various locations in Korea on Monday.

Inovio's affiliate, VGX International, Inc., agreed to fund the study to determine the impact of the vaccine on individuals who are chronically infected with hepatitis C under terms of a collaborative agreement reached in 2011.

"More effective antiviral drugs have changed the prognosis for patients with hepatitis C; however, treatment failures remain and combination with an immunotherapeutic approach could make the difference for many patients," Inovio President and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim said.

In the phase one trial, 18 patients will be split into three groups. They will be given four monthly 1-milligram, 3-milligram and 6-milligram doses of the drug, VGX-6150.

"We have already shown in published clinical studies that our vaccines generate best-in-class T-cell responses," Kim said. "In this study, the effects of Inovio's hepatitis C immunotherapy will be directly tested in patients who have previously failed standard drug therapies. We look forward to entering the hepatitis C treatment arena, which is one of the fastest developing markets in healthcare, with a projected value of $20 billion."