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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Reports Results From Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate

By Prosper Junior Bakiny – Jun 30, 2020 at 11:52AM

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The results for INO-4800 were positive, but it’s much too early to celebrate.

On Tuesday morning, Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -2.92%) released interim data from a phase 1 clinical trial for INO-4800, its investigational vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This trial initially enrolled 40 participants between the ages of 18 and 50, but it was later amended to include older participants.

As an early-stage trial, the study is only looking for data about INO-4800's safety and its immunogenicity -- i.e, its ability to trigger the desired immune response in the body. (Note that three of the trial's participants tested positive for COVID-19 at the study's entry, indicating that they had contracted the virus prior to being enrolled in the study, and another left the trial for non-clinical reasons.)

The interim data from the trial found no serious safety concerns associated with the vaccine -- it was "generally safe and well-tolerated." However, participants experienced redness on the skin where the vaccine was administered. Importantly, 94% of them demonstrated an immune response six weeks after receiving the vaccine. Specifically, Inovio said that its potential vaccine has "the ability to generate balanced antibody and T cell immune responses." (T cells are white blood cells that bind to and kill infected cells.) The biotech company plans to start a phase 2/3 clinical trial for INO-4800 later this summer, pending regulatory approval.

Face mask with "COVID-19" written on it on a red background.

Image source: Getty Images.

Other developments

Inovio also announced that INO-4800 has been selected for a study being conducted under the aegis of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed, an initiative dedicated to supporting the rapid development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. INO-4800, along with other vaccine candidates, will be tested in a non-human primate challenge study in which inoculated animals will be deliberately exposed to the coronavirus.

Also of note, Inovio recently landed a $71 million contract from the Department of Defense, some of which will go toward scaling up the manufacturing of its Cellectra 3PSP smart devices, and the rest to purchase a large quantity of Inovio's Cellectra 2000 devices. Both of these handheld injection systems are used to more-effectively administer DNA vaccines like INO-4800, using electrical pulses to allow the vaccines to directly enter the recipient's skin cells.

Prosper Junior Bakiny has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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