INOVIO Receives $71 Million Contract From U.S. DOD
INOVIO today announced it has received $71 million funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to support the large-scale manufacture of the company's proprietary CELLECTRA® 3PSP smart device and the procurement of CELLECTRA® 2000 devices, which are used to deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin.
CELLECTRA® 3PSP is designed to deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin, where the vaccine prompts the body's immune system to drive a robust immune response. Interim results of U.S. Phase 1 clinical studies of INO-4800 will be available later this month. A Phase 2/3 efficacy trial is planned to begin this summer (July/August).
The DoD contract, from the JPEO-CRBND-EB through funding provided by the Defense Health Program, builds upon two separate prior $5 million grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to accelerate the testing of CELLECTRA® 3PSP. Initial development of this next generation CELLECTRA® 3PSP smart device began in 2019 with $8.1 million in funding from the medical arm of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Medical CBRN Defense Consortium.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, INOVIO's President and CEO, said, "INOVIO is very pleased to receive this significant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to continue our rapid scale-up capacity for our breakthrough DNA medicines delivery device CELLECTRA®. We look forward to working closely with DoD, JPEO-CBRND and JPL-CBRND-EB to provide much needed protection to DoD personnel and their families through development of a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. This next generation smart device leverages the efficacy delivery and safety track record of an earlier version that has received CE mark certification and has been used in clinical trials to safely dose more than 2,000 patients in over 7,000 administrations of INOVIO's DNA medicines. The current DoD contract further supports INOVIO's large-scale production of devices and arrays to deliver potentially hundreds of millions of doses of INO-4800 next year to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic."
CELLECTRA® 3PSP is a small, portable, hand-held, user-friendly device that runs on "AA" batteries. The device is designed to function reliably in challenging environments and can be stockpiled in large quantities without maintenance, characteristics that are critical in a pandemic situation. INOVIO's San Diego device manufacturing facility has produced initial quantities of the device, while also showing that the design and scale-up of the manufacturing processes can be transferred to contract manufacturers in order to further increase supply.
About the JPEO-CBRND
The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense is the Joint Service's lead for development, acquisition, fielding and life-cycle support of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense equipment and medical countermeasures. As an effective acquisition program, we put capable and supportable systems in the hands of the service members and first responders, when and where it is needed, at an affordable price. Our vision is a resilient Joint Force enabled to fight and win unencumbered by a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear environment; championed by innovative and state-of-the-art solutions. JPL-CBRND Enabling Biotechnologies (EB) is an organization established for the purpose of providing medical solutions, during a crisis, against future threats.
INO-4800 is INOVIO's DNA vaccine candidate being developed to protect against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. INO-4800 was designed using INOVIO's proprietary DNA medicine platform rapidly after the publication of the genetic sequence of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. INOVIO has extensive experience working with coronaviruses and is the only company with a vaccine in Phase 2 development for a related coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
INO-4800 is the only nucleic-acid based vaccine that is stable at room temperature for more than a year and does not require to be frozen in transport or storage, which are important factors when implementing mass immunizations.
About INOVIO's DNA Medicines Platform
INOVIO has 15 DNA medicine clinical programs currently in development focused on HPV-associated diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases, including coronaviruses associated with MERS and COVID-19 diseases being developed under grants from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the DoD. DNA medicines are composed of optimized DNA plasmids, which are small circles of double-stranded DNA that are synthesized or reorganized by a computer sequencing technology and designed to produce a specific immune response in the body.
INOVIO's DNA medicines deliver optimized plasmids directly into cells intradermally or intramuscularly using INOVIO's proprietary hand-held smart device called CELLECTRA®. The CELLECTRA device uses a brief electrical pulse to reversibly open small pores in the cell to allow the plasmids to enter, overcoming a key limitation of other DNA and other nucleic acid approaches, such as mRNA. Once inside the cell, the DNA plasmids enable the cell to produce the targeted antigen. The antigen is processed naturally in the cell and triggers the desired T cell and antibody-mediated immune responses. Administration with the CELLECTRA device is designed to ensure that the DNA medicine is efficiently delivered directly into the body's cells, where it can go to work to drive an immune response. INOVIO's DNA medicines do not interfere with or change in any way an individual's own DNA. The advantages of INOVIO's DNA medicine platform are how fast DNA medicines can be designed and manufactured, the stability of the products which do not require freezing in storage and transport, and the robust immune response, safety profile, and tolerability that have been demonstrated in clinical trials.
With more than 2,000 patients receiving INOVIO investigational DNA medicines in more than 7,000 applications across a range of clinical trials, INOVIO has a strong track record of rapidly generating DNA medicine candidates with potential to meet urgent global health needs.