Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO 0.93%) has received quite a bit of help in its quest to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
For instance, on Jan. 23, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations awarded a grant of up to $9 million to Inovio to fund pre-clinical and clinical development of its vaccine candidate, INO-4800. Also, on March 12, the company received a grant of $5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to test and scale up the manufacture of the Cellectra 3PSP, a smart device for the intradermal delivery of INO-4800.
Now, Inovio is teaming up with Ology Bioservices, a privately held company that focuses on the development and manufacturing of vaccines and biologics. The two biotech companies received a grant of $11.9 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to manufacture INO-4800. Given the urgency of the situation, Inovio and Ology Bioservices are expected to expedite the manufacture of INO-4800 and deliver some to the Defense Department for clinical trials as soon as possible.
Inovio famously claimed that it created INO-4800 in just three hours after the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was made public by Chinese researchers on Jan. 10. The company expects to start its own clinical trials for the vaccine next month.
Meanwhile, other companies are pushing ahead in their attempts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Most notably, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is currently leading a phase 1 clinical trial for a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that was developed by Moderna (MRNA 0.62%). The trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers who will each receive two doses of the vaccine. The goals of the trial are to test the safety of the vaccine, its ability to trigger the body's immune response, and the dosage that causes expected side effects.