Inovio Biomedical Corporation, a late stage developer of therapies for cancer and applications using electroporation to deliver gene-based treatments, announced today that it will receive an appropriation of $1.1 million from the United States Department of Defense to develop applications of its electroporation-based gene delivery technology for vaccination against infectious diseases including potential bioterrorism agents.
The United States Congress appropriated the funding in the Defense Appropriations Bill for 2007. The appropriation is a continuation of prior funding from the United States Army to Inovio focused on the development of a more effective gene delivery system for gene-based vaccines. Inovio is working closely on this project with Dr. Connie Schmaljohn, a world-renowned virologist and chief of the Department of Molecular Virology at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, USAMRIID, at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.
Background on DNA Vaccines
DNA vaccines delivered with electroporation are of interest to the medical community primarily because they provide the advantage of rapid and robust immune responses. They are effective at triggering both enhanced cellular and humoral immune responses (mediated by certain white blood cells and antibodies, respectively) that are difficult to achieve by conventional vaccine technology and provide superior immunity to the antigenic (toxic) challenge posed by infectious agents.
Ease of characterization and manufacturing make DNA vaccines amenable to rapid clinical development. DNA vaccines can be synthetically produced, rapidly manufactured in large quantities using standard bacterial fermenters, and stored at room temperature.
DNA vaccines delivered by electroporation have been shown to effectively reprogram the immune system to recognize antigens on cancer cells that had not otherwise been recognized. This ability to break immune tolerance is a key feature of this technology and may contribute to the development of vaccines for persistent viral infections.