Inovio announces successful clinical trial of MERS vaccine

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announced on Wednesday that its SynCon DNA vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus was successful in producing a robust and sustained immune response.

The MERS virus first emerged in 2012. One hundred fifty-three cases from nine countries in the Middle East have been reported, with a sustained mortality rate of 42 percent. While there is currently no vaccine or effective therapeutic treatment against MERS infection, Inovio's vaccine shows promise.

Inovio developed the SynCon vaccine using its Cellectra electroporation-based delivery technology.

The research team tested the novel vaccine utilizing a mouse model and found that it effectively induces broad CD8+T cells and strong antibodies against a range of epitopes of MERS proteins. The antibodies generated in 100 percent of the mice were strong enough to prevent MERS infection. T cells and antibodies play a huge role in fighting off infection, making SynCon a potentially successful vaccine against MERS infection.

"Our SynCon platform has again generated a synthetic vaccine candidate that shows promise for providing a treatment where there is none," Inovio President and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim said. "With human data showing the powerful killing effect of T cells generated by our vaccine for HIV and our therapy for HPV-associated cervical dysplasia and various cancers, we look forward to providing Inovio's answer to MERS, a deadly infectious disease that has unknown pandemic potential. What's even more impressive about our candidate vaccine is that it is designed with the goal to universally protect against multiple strains of MERS, which has been shown to have diverse genetic variants. With appropriate external funding, this product could become an effective shield against this deadly virus."