INOVIO, a biotechnology company focused on rapidly bringing to market precisely designed DNA medicines to treat and protect people from infectious diseases, and cancer, announced the results of a study focusing on the human immune responses induced by INOVIO’s DNA vaccine candidate for COVID-19, INO-4800, against variants of concern. The results showed that INO-4800 induced a robust T cell response against all spike protein variants tested, which the company believes will be key in providing protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants, in addition to providing similar levels of neutralizing activity against both the UK and Brazilian variants as those against the original strain. The study, entitled “INO-4800 DNA Vaccine Induces Neutralizing Antibodies and T cell Activity Against Global SARS-CoV-2 Variants,” has been submitted for peer review and can be viewed at https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.04.14.439719v1.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, INOVIO’s President & CEO, said, “These results are consistent with our expectation that INO-4800, which was found to be well-tolerated and able to produce a balanced immune response in our Phase 1 trial, is able to generate both neutralizing antibodies and robust T cell responses – both of which will be essential to protect against the emerging variants of concern.”
Regarding INO-4800 development Dr. Kim said, “We will report Phase 2 results in 2Q, and, with FDA concurrence, expect to move into Phase 3 in the second quarter of this year. Our COVID vaccine’s projected safety profile, its stability at room temperature for more than a year, and likely ability to safely boost numerous times positions INOVIO’s COVID-19 vaccine as an important factor in addressing the virus in its pandemic and endemic states.”
In the study, clinical samples were collected at varying timepoints post-immunization from subjects in INOVIO’s Phase 1 US-based INO-4800 clinical trial. Antibodies capable of neutralizing activity were measured against the spike protein variants tested, including B.1.1.7 (UK variant), B.1.351 (South African variant) and P.1. (Brazilian variant). The study showed the T cell responses induced by INO-4800 vaccination were fully maintained against the UK, South African and Brazilian variants when compared to the T cell responses to the original Wuhan strain. The neutralization levels of INO-4800 against South Africa and UK variants were reduced to the levels similar to the previous reports of mRNA or viral vector vaccines. Furthermore, despite recent reports showing a reduction in neutralizing activity against the Brazilian variant by the mRNA or viral vector vaccines, INO-4800 generated robust neutralizing antibodies at levels against Brazilian variant which were comparable to those against the Wuhan strain. Taken together with the data showing the maintenance of T cell activity, the results reported in this study provide a comprehensive overview of cross-reactive cellular and humoral immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants for INO-4800 vaccinated individuals that may be important for protection against variant strains of SARS-CoV-2.
Collectively, the studies showcase how the combination of robust T cell responses in conjunction with neutralizing antibody responses provide an important defense against both emerging and potential future viral variants, exhibiting broad protection against the virus and less impacted by the mutational changes a virus may undergo.
INO-4800 is INOVIO’s DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Composed of an optimized DNA plasmid, INO-4800 is delivered directly into cells in the body via a proprietary smart device to produce a robust and tolerable immune response. INO-4800 is the only nucleic-acid based vaccine that is stable at room temperature for more than a year, at 37o C for more than a month, has a five-year projected shelf life at normal refrigeration temperature and does not need to be frozen during transport or storage – all of which are important considerations when preparing for mass immunizations.
About INOVIO’s DNA Medicines Platform
INOVIO has 15 DNA medicine clinical programs currently in development focused on infectious diseases, cancer and HPV-associated diseases. DNA medicines are composed of optimized DNA plasmids, which are small circles of double-stranded DNA that are synthesized or reorganized by a computer sequencing technology and designed to produce a specific immune response in the body.
INOVIO’s DNA medicines deliver optimized plasmids directly into cells intramuscularly or intradermally using INOVIO’s proprietary hand-held smart device called CELLECTRA®. The CELLECTRA® uses a brief electrical pulse to reversibly open small pores in the cell to allow the plasmids to enter, overcoming a key limitation of other DNA and nucleic acid approaches, such as mRNA. Once inside the cell, the DNA plasmids enable the cell to produce the targeted antigen, which is processed naturally in the cell and triggers the desired T cell and antibody-mediated immune responses. INOVIO’s DNA medicines do not interfere with or change in any way an individual’s own DNA. The advantages of INOVIO’s DNA medicine platform are how fast DNA medicines can be designed and manufactured; the stability of the products, which do not require cold storage or transport; and the robust immune response, safety profile, and tolerability that have been observed in clinical trials.
With more than 3,000 patients receiving INOVIO investigational DNA medicines in more than 7,000 applications across a range of clinical trials, INOVIO has a strong track record of rapidly generating DNA medicine candidates with potential to meet urgent global health needs.
INOVIO is a biotechnology company focused on rapidly bringing to market precisely designed DNA medicines to treat and protect people from infectious diseases, cancer, and diseases associated with HPV. INOVIO is the first and only company to have clinically demonstrated that a DNA medicine can be delivered directly into cells in the body via a proprietary smart device to produce a robust and tolerable immune response. Specifically, INOVIO’s lead candidate VGX-3100 met primary and secondary endpoints for all evaluable subjects in REVEAL 1, in the first of two Phase 3 trials for precancerous cervical dysplasia, demonstrating ability to destroy and clear both high-grade cervical lesions and the underlying high-risk HPV 16 and 18. INOVIO is also evaluating INO-4800, a DNA vaccine candidate against COVID-19, in a Phase 2 clinical trial in the U.S., as well as Phase 2 trials in China and South Korea. Partners and collaborators include Advaccine, ApolloBio Corporation, AstraZeneca, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND)/Department of Defense (DOD), HIV Vaccines Trial Network, International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Kaneka Eurogentec, Medical CBRN Defense Consortium (MCDC), National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Ology Bioservices, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Plumbline Life Sciences, Regeneron, Richter-Helm BioLogics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, University of Pennsylvania, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and The Wistar Institute.