BLUE BELL, Pa., March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that its partner, ChronTech Pharma AB (formerly Tripep AB), has initiated a Phase IIb clinical study of its ChronVac-C® DNA vaccine for hepatitis C virus (HCV), delivered by Inovio's proprietary electroporation DNA vaccine delivery technology, in combination with standard of care.
In a Phase I clinical trial of ChronVac-C using Inovio's MedPulser® electroporation device the therapy resulted in a robust increase in T-cell immune responses against HCV and was safe and well-tolerated. Post-study observation of subjects who completed the protocol and then entered into standard of care (SOC) treatment using interferon and ribavirin showed a complete and rapid viral response (four weeks) in 70% of those participants (5 of 7 patients). More significantly, 83% of the participants (5 of 6 patients) who were monitored for an extended period of time, continued to be free of the virus six months after they completed SOC. SOC treatment alone usually results in about 40-50% of patients reaching undetectable virus levels after six months of treatment.
This Phase II follow-on trial is an open-label, single-dose, randomized trial of 32 patients to further explore the effect of the ChronVac-C® DNA vaccine administered by Inovio's MedPulser® electroporation delivery device. The therapy will be given two times, with four weeks in between, followed by SOC treatment after the final vaccine dose in treatment-naïve chronic HCV infected genotype-1 subjects. This trial will assess the level of immune responses, levels of HCV viral load, and further assess the response to the delivery technology. Twenty patients will receive ChronVac-C® vaccine delivered with Inovio's electroporation device; the 12-patient comparison group will receive standard-of-care treatment alone. The study has received approval from the Swedish Medical Products Agency and local ethical committee.
"If we can repeat the Phase I results in this phase IIb study there is certainly a possibility that vaccination with ChronVac-C® before drug therapy could become a part of the standard of care therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis C-virus infection. In particular, we hope that vaccination with this novel therapy will result in a considerable shortening of the duration of interferon and ribavirin treatment," said Anders Vahlne, CEO of ChronTech Pharma AB.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said: "We are encouraged by the phase I results showing the improved cure rate in patients who received the HCV vaccine followed by a SOC drug therapy. Any improvement to the HCV standard of care response rates would be well-received by HCV patients and practitioners. We are pleased to collaborate in this advancement of ChronVac-C®, using Inovio's innovative delivery technology, into Phase II."
About Hepatitis C Virus
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the United States, where approximately 3.5 million persons have been chronically infected. Worldwide, about 300 million people have been infected with HCV. Based on current statistics for hepatitis C, it is estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 people die each year from chronic liver disease caused by this condition. Chronic HCV infection is the leading indication for liver transplants in the United States. Total health costs associated with hepatitis C virus in the U.S. are estimated at more than $15 billion per year. No vaccine for HCV is currently available.
About Inovio's Electroporation-Based Delivery Technology
Inovio's electroporation-based DNA delivery systems can increase the cellular uptake of an agent by 1,000 times or more. When used to deliver DNA vaccines, Inovio's systems can increase levels of gene expression (i.e. production of the coded protein) and immune responses by 100 times or more compared to plasmid DNA delivered without other delivery enhancements. Inovio has recently reported best-in-class immune responses with DNA vaccines for cervical dysplasias/cancers and HIV. Inovio has also shown the safety and tolerability of its electroporation devices in many hundreds of patients and continues to advance device innovations to further enhance the utility of these devices for mass vaccinations.
About Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Inovio is developing a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, to treat and prevent cancers and infectious diseases. These SynCon™ vaccines are designed to provide broad cross-strain protection against known as well as newly emergent strains of pathogens such as influenza. These vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery devices, have been shown to be safe and generate significant immune responses. Inovio's clinical programs include HPV/cervical dysplasia and cancer (therapeutic), avian flu (preventive), and HIV vaccines (both preventive and therapeutic). Inovio is developing universal influenza and other vaccines in collaboration with scientists from the University of Pennsylvania. Other partners and collaborators include Merck, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, NIH, HIV Vaccines Trial Network, University of Southampton, and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. More information is available at www.inovio.com.
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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 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, our ability to successfully integrate Inovio and VGX Pharmaceuticals, 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, 2009, our Form 10-Q for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, 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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