BLUE BELL, Pa., April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE MKT: INO) today announced the release of preliminary clinical trial results by its collaborator ChronTech AS of their open label phase II clinical study of ChronVac-C®, ChronTech's vaccine to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The study investigated the use of the ChronVac-C DNA vaccine administered with Inovio's MedPulserTM-DDS electroporation device followed by a drug regimen (ribavirin + PEG-interferon-a) in chronic HCV positive subjects. These initial results do not show a statistically significant difference so far between treatment outcomes of the vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups. The vaccinated group did display an excellent safety profile.
In this 29 patient phase II study, 17 patients were treated with two monthly vaccinations of ChronVac-C (500 ug) followed by interferon and ribavirin. In the control arm, 12 patients were treated with interferon and ribavirin alone. ChronTech has now made a first analysis 12 weeks after treatment. HCV viral load reduction or elimination is assessed by measuring HCV RNA levels. At treatment week 12, 71% of the pre-vaccinated group had less than 15 international units of HCV RNA compared to 58% in the non-vaccinated group; 65% were HCV RNA negative compared to 58% in the non-vaccinated group. There were no serious adverse events and the number of patients with moderate adverse events was statistically lower in the pre-vaccinated group than in the non-vaccinated group (p<0.05, Fishers exact test). There was no difference in mild adverse events between the groups.
In 2007, ChronTech initiated its phase I dose escalation (167, 500, 1500 mg) study using its ChronVac-C DNA vaccine targeting genotype 1a and NS3/4A antigens delivered with Inovio's MedPulser device. The treatment regimen of four vaccinations delivered with electroporation demonstrated transient reduction in viral load. In that study, a group of eight patients were subsequently treated with standard of care ribavirin plus PEG-interferon-a. Of this group, six patients (75%) achieved a complete early viral response (cEVR) and a sustained viral response (SVR), an encouraging result compared to typical medical observations of 40-50% response rates with the ribavirin-interferon drug regimen alone in genotype 1 patients. In contrast to the previous study, in this subsequent phase II study only two DNA vaccine administrations at the medium dose level used in the phase I study were used to assess the potential for a clinically meaningful result.
"The major hurdle to developing therapeutic vaccines for any disease area has been the inability to generate a meaningful level of functional T-cell response and, in the case of HCV, one that is directed to the liver. We have appreciated the opportunity in this collaboration to support ChronTech with our electroporation delivery technology and observe the impact of varying vaccine doses and regimens and their combination with standard of care on immune responses and HCV viral load," said Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's President and CEO.
"Inovio's extensive preclinical and clinical data generation and experience in advancing DNA vaccines across multiple disease areas have shown us that our effort to characterize and design highly optimized multi-antigen-targeting DNA vaccines and dosing, vaccination, and electroporation parameters was a necessary and successful step to achieve desired therapeutic immune responses. Our next-generation SynCon® vaccines and CELLECTRA® electroporation delivery devices have demonstrated best-in-class T-cell responses for HIV and cervical dysplasias caused by HPV and the ability to generate functional CD8 T-cells with antigen-specific killing activity in humans. Similarly, Inovio's proprietary HCV DNA vaccine therapy employing these next-generation technologies has achieved a scientific first by inducing highly functional T-cells in the liver in animal studies. There remains an important role for a potent therapeutic HCV vaccine in treating and managing this chronic disease. We look forward to initiating our planned phase I clinical study of Inovio's proprietary HCV DNA vaccine later this year."
Inovio's SynCon® DNA vaccine, INO-8000, is coded to produce the antigens NS3/4A, NS4B, and NS5A of HCV genotypes 1a and 1b, the most difficult-to-treat genotypes. This is one of the broadest spectrums of antigens targeted by any HCV vaccine or drug, including those under development, and creates a better possibility to induce the desired therapeutic immune response. Our proprietary DNA vaccines are uniquely designed to enhance gene expression and antigen secretion, processing, and presentation through a proprietary combination of DNA, RNA, and codon optimization techniques as well as the use of patent protected IgE leader sequences. Our CELLECTRA® electroporation device co-localizes vaccine delivery with the applied electric field and operates under more effective constant-current EP parameters. Together these next-generation technologies have generated levels of T-cells that are often orders of magnitude greater than competing technologies, including those using viral vectors and other facilitated delivery systems.
Inovio recently announced the completion of preclinical development of INO-8000, with data demonstrating the induction of functional T-cells in the liver published in PLOS ONE, and completion of cGMP manufacturing of clinical product. Inovio plans to initiate a phase I study of INO-8000 in 4Q 2013.
About Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Inovio is revolutionizing vaccines to prevent and treat today's cancers and challenging infectious diseases. Its SynCon® vaccines are designed to provide universal protection against known as well as new unmatched strains of pathogens such as influenza. These synthetic vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery, have been shown in humans to generate best-in-class immune responses with a favorable safety profile. Inovio's clinical programs include phase II studies for cervical dysplasia, leukemia and hepatitis C virus and phase I studies for influenza and HIV. Partners and collaborators include the University of Pennsylvania, Merck, ChronTech, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, NIH, HIV Vaccines Trial Network, University of Southampton, US Dept. of Homeland Security, University of Manitoba and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. More information is available at www.inovio.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements relating to our business, including our plans to develop electroporation-based drug and gene delivery technologies and DNA vaccines and our capital resources. Actual events or results may differ from the expectations set forth herein as a result of a number of factors, including uncertainties inherent in pre-clinical studies, clinical trials and product development programs (including, but not limited to, the fact that pre-clinical and clinical results referenced in this release may not be indicative of results achievable in other trials or for other indications, that the studies or trials may not be successful or achieve the results desired, that pre-clinical studies and clinical trials may not commence or be completed in the time periods anticipated, that results from one study may not necessarily be reflected or supported by the results of other similar studies and that results from an animal study may not be indicative of results achievable in human studies), the availability of funding to support continuing research and studies in an effort to prove safety and efficacy of electroporation technology as a delivery mechanism or develop viable DNA vaccines, the adequacy of our capital resources, the availability or potential availability of alternative therapies or treatments for the conditions targeted by the company or its collaborators, including alternatives that may be more efficacious or cost-effective than any therapy or treatment that the company and its collaborators hope to develop, evaluation of potential opportunities, issues involving product liability, issues involving patents and whether they or licenses to them will provide the company with meaningful protection from others using the covered technologies, whether such proprietary rights are enforceable or defensible or infringe or allegedly infringe on rights of others or can withstand claims of invalidity and whether the company can finance or devote other significant resources that may be necessary to prosecute, protect or defend them, the level of corporate expenditures, assessments of the company's technology by potential corporate or other partners or collaborators, capital market conditions, the impact of government healthcare proposals and other factors set forth in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012, and other regulatory filings from time to time. There can be no assurance that any product in Inovio's pipeline will be successfully developed or manufactured, that final results of clinical studies will be supportive of regulatory approvals required to market licensed products, or that any of the forward-looking information provided herein will be proven accurate.
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