Article in Current Opinion in Immunology Journal Declares Coming "Decade of DNA Vaccines"

BLUE BELL, Pa., May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that the prestigious journal Current Opinion in Immunology has published an article in its current issue entitled, "Electroporation Delivery of DNA Vaccines: Prospects for Success." The article was co-authored by Dr. Niranjan Sardesai, Inovio's Senior Vice President, Research & Development, and Dr. David Weiner, Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania. Readers can purchase the article at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coi.2011.03.008.

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The article affirms that DNA vaccines are nearing the threshold of a medical leap far beyond the power of traditional vaccines, which employ 60-year-old development concepts. According to the article, "From the vaccinologists' perspective, DNA, due to its ability to combine the power of genomics with in vivo antigen expression, provides a tantalizing opportunity to easily customize vaccines through the use of molecular biology. Indeed it can be said that DNA vaccines bring to fore the strengths of molecular biology and genetic engineering to harness the potential of the immune system."  

The authors, each with more than a decade of DNA vaccine development expertise, see the unique attributes of DNA vaccines that could lead to major medical and commercial advances. "The ability to easily combine multiple plasmids or disparate gene products into a single formulation without apparent loss of potency allows the possibility to formulate multi-component vaccines targeting multiple antigens or even multiple pathogens simultaneously….. Such vaccines can be designed to increase the breadth of the immune responses and potentially increase pathogen coverage…. Approaches such as the use of synthetic consensus immunogens and mosaics – both approaches available simply in a DNA based platform – are expanding the notion of vaccine design to focus on developing 'universal' vaccines to simultaneously target multiple divergent but related strains of given pathogens."    

DNA vaccines, which use a fragment of DNA designed to produce an antigenic protein related to a particular disease, could provide the following important attributes:

  • Accelerated development times
  • Easy, cost effective manufacturing using well established methods
  • No ability to reproduce and spread disease
  • Broad, powerful immune responses, stimulating not only antibody production, as do today's vaccines, but also T-cells, which are required to kill cancerous cells or cells infected by chronic infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C virus
  • Preventive & therapeutic capabilities

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said: "This distinguished journal article on DNA vaccines affirms the accomplishments and potential of this field. At Inovio we are proud to be a leader in advancing novel DNA plasmid vaccines and enhanced delivery using electroporation, with vaccines for HIV, influenza and cancer all in clinical trials. We look forward to our leadership role in the coming "Decade of DNA Vaccines."

The article by Drs. Sardesai and Weiner emphasizes the progress of electroporation (EP) as the preferred DNA vaccine delivery technology. "EP mediated delivery has generated considerable enthusiasm and appears to have had a great impact in vaccine immunogenicity and efficacy by increasing antigen delivery up to a 1000 fold over naked DNA delivery alone. This increased delivery has resulted in an improved in vivo immune response magnitude as well as response rates relative to DNA delivery by direct injection alone."

Electroporation is a method to introduce macro-molecules such as nucleic acids into cells, either in vivo or in vitro, via the application of brief electric pulses to induce transient and reversible permeabilization of the cell membrane. Electroporation-based DNA delivery systems have been shown to dramatically increase cellular uptake of a DNA vaccine and resulting gene expression (i.e. production of the coded protein) and increase immune responses by 100 times or more compared to plasmid DNA delivered without other delivery enhancements.

The article also compares several DNA vaccine delivery technologies, coming to the conclusion that, "The immune responses and protection from pathogen challenge observed following DNA administration via EP in many cases are comparable or superior to other well studied vaccine platforms including viral vectors and live/attenuated/inactivated virus vaccines. Significantly, the early promise of EP delivery shown in numerous pre-clinical animal models of many different infectious diseases and cancer are now translating into equally enhanced immune responses in human clinical trials, making the prospects for this vaccine approach to impact diverse disease targets tangible."

About Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Inovio is developing a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, to treat and prevent cancers and infectious diseases. These SynCon™ vaccines are designed to provide broad cross-strain protection against known as well as newly emergent strains of pathogens such as influenza. These vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery devices, have been shown to be safe and generate significant immune responses. Inovio's clinical programs include HPV/cervical dysplasia and cancer (therapeutic), avian flu (preventive), and HIV vaccines (both preventive and therapeutic). Inovio is developing universal influenza and other vaccines in collaboration with scientists from the University of Pennsylvania. Other partners and collaborators include Merck, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, HIV Vaccines Trial Network, National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. More information is available at www.inovio.com.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to our business, including our plans to develop electroporation-based drug and gene delivery technologies and DNA vaccines and our capital resources. Actual events or results may differ from the expectations set forth herein as a result of a number of factors, including uncertainties inherent in pre-clinical studies, clinical trials and product development programs (including, but not limited to, the fact that pre-clinical and clinical results referenced in this release may not be indicative of results achievable in other trials or for other indications, that the studies or trials may not be successful or achieve the results desired, that results from one study may not necessarily be reflected or supported by the results of other similar studies and that results from an animal study may not be indicative of results achievable in human studies), the availability of funding to support continuing research and studies in an effort to prove safety and efficacy of electroporation technology as a delivery mechanism or develop viable DNA vaccines, the adequacy of our capital resources, the availability or potential availability of alternative therapies or treatments for the conditions targeted by the company or its collaborators, including alternatives that may be more efficacious or cost-effective than any therapy or treatment that the company and its collaborators hope to develop, evaluation of potential opportunities, issues involving product liability, issues involving patents and whether they or licenses to them will provide the company with meaningful protection from others using the covered technologies, whether such proprietary rights are enforceable or defensible or infringe or allegedly infringe on rights of others or can withstand claims of invalidity and whether the company can finance or devote other significant resources that may be necessary to prosecute, protect or defend them, the level of corporate expenditures, assessments of the company's technology by potential corporate or other partners or collaborators, capital market conditions, our ability to successfully integrate Inovio and VGX Pharmaceuticals, the impact of government healthcare proposals and other factors set forth in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009, our Form 10-Q for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, and other regulatory filings from time to time. There can be no assurance that any product in Inovio's pipeline will be successfully developed or manufactured, that final results of clinical studies will be supportive of regulatory approvals required to market licensed products, or that any of the forward-looking information provided herein will be proven accurate.

CONTACTS:

Investors:  Bernie Hertel, Inovio Pharmaceuticals 858-410-3101 bhertel@inovio.com
Media:  Jeff Richardson, Richardson & Associates 805-491-8313 jeff@richardsonglobalpr.com

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SOURCE Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Web Site: http://www.inovio.com
 

Posted: May 2011

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