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Inovio gets second grant to fund bioterrorism synthetic vaccines

Inovio gets second grant to fund bioterrorism synthetic vaccines

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (AMEX:INO) received a second grant by the U.S. Defence Department to fund bioterrorism synthetic vaccines program, the company said Monday.

The project is a continuation of a first-stage department of defence grant last year that started the company’s development of its skin delivery system.

The grant allows Inovio to advance development of a low-cost, non-invasive surface electroporation delivery device and test its utility with its novel synthetic DNA-based vaccines against viruses with a bioterrorism potential, including hanta, puumala,
arenavirus and pandemic influenza.

Shares of the company rose 1.1 cents, or 1.64 percent, climbing to 68 cents apiece on the American Stock Exchange on Monday. 

"Our human studies have already demonstrated that our existing intradermal delivery device is very tolerable and able to facilitate strong immune responses from our synthetic vaccines," Inovio president J. Joseph Kim said in a statement. 

In the first phase, Inovio focused on optimizing the device design of its minimally invasive surface EP device.

Inovio’s second phase will assess the device and the resulting immune responses in animal models, which will target "challenging bioterrorism" targets. 

Additionally, the company will also investigate the development and manufacture of low-cost sterile disposables for the device and integrate dermal injection capabilities into a combine inject/EP device platform.

Inovio's current intradermal EP device penetrates no more than three millimetres in depth, in contrast to intramuscular devices that go much deeper.

Its minimally invasive surface EP device sits on the surface of the skin and uses a virtually undetectable scratch to facilitate delivery of the vaccine. 

The company’s SynCon vaccines are designed to provide broad cross-strain protection against known and newly emergent unmatched strains of pathogens such as influenza.

These synthetic vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery, have been shown to generate positive immune responses, along with a favourable safety profile.

Inovio's clinical programs include phase II studies for cervical dysplasia, pre-cancerous lesions, leukemia and the hepatitis C virus, as well as phase I studies for influenza and HIV.

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