Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced today that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has awarded Inovio a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed numerous people and infected hundreds more in China to date.
This initial CEPI funding will support Inovio’s preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine matched to the outbreak strain. CEPI previously awarded Inovio a grant of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus.
Richard Hatchett, CEPI’s CEO, said, “Given the rapid global spread of the 2019-nCoV virus the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease. Our intention with this work is to leverage our work with Inovio on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platform to speed up vaccine development.”
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s President & CEO said, “We’re extremely honored to expand our partnership with CEPI to tackle this new threat to global public health. Our DNA medicine platform represents the best modern day approach to combatting emerging pandemics. We have already demonstrated positive clinical outcomes with our vaccine against MERS-CoV, another coronavirus. Importantly, following the Zika viral infection outbreak, Inovio and our partners developed a vaccine that went from bench to human testing in just seven months – the fastest vaccine development on record in recent decades. We believe we can further improve upon this accelerated timeline to meet the current challenge of the emerging Chinese coronavirus 2019-nCoV.”
Inovio’s collaborators in this coronavirus vaccine development include the Wistar Institute, VGXI, a fully owned subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science, and Twist Bioscience.