Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ:INO) inked a $56 million partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccine candidates against Lassa fever and middle east respiratory syndrome.
According to the terms of the deal, CEPI is slated to support Inovio’s preclinical and clinical efforts through to Phase II trials of INO-4500, its Lassa fever vaccine, and INO-4700, its MERS vaccine. The agreement also includes options to establish stockpiles of both vaccines, the companies reported.
“Epidemics don’t respect borders; they destroy lives and devastate economies and we need to move swiftly to prepare for them. Partnering with Inovio is a considerable move forward for CEPI’s vaccine portfolio and developing a global insurance policy against these diseases,” CEPI’s chief executive, Richard Hatchett, said in prepared remarks.
“The Inovio/CEPI partnership demonstrates the confidence of both organizations in Inovio’s DNA vaccine platform to rapidly produce countermeasures against emerging viral threats potentially protecting large populations from a pandemic,” Inovio president & CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim added. “A key demonstration of such capabilities was that Inovio was the first organization to develop, manufacture and report positive human data from a Zika vaccine in less than seven months – when traditional vaccines take several years to reach this point. We look forward to addressing the global health challenges of emerging infectious diseases.”
In a first-in-human Phase I trial of its MERS vaccine, Inovio reported that 92% of participants had high levels of binding antibodies and all but one vaccinated participant generated a T-cell or antibody response against the vaccine. In a study of its Lassa fever vaccine, Inovio touted that the product provided 100% protection for non-human primates given a lethal dose of the virus.
INO shares were up 4.8% in mid-afternoon activity today, trading at $4.99 apiece.