Zika Vaccine Candidate Doses 1st Patient

Inovio Zika vaccine candidate INO-A002 launches phase 1 study
mother and young daughter on a beach walking
(Zika News)

The initial subject was dosed as part of the first-ever human study of Inovio's DNA-encoded monoclonal antibody (dMAb™) technology. 

This limited clinical trial's focus is evaluating the dMAb's (INO-A002) ability to prevent or treat a Zika virus infection. 

This open-label clinical trial is a single-center, dose escalation trial that will enroll up to 24 healthy volunteers who will receive up to 4 doses of INO-A002. 

When delivered directly into the body, the genetic codes provided by the synthetic dMAbs, instruct the body's cells to become the factory which manufactures the therapeutic antibody products, enabling a major leap forward in antibody technology. 

In this regard, dMAbs offer unique features for rapid production, deployment, and advancement of new MAb-like biologics, with much-increased efficiency, said this company. 

In addition, the dMAb's produced in vivo likely may have additional advantages such as expression profiles, as well as glycosylation, and unlike traditional MAb approaches, there is no reliance on in vivo-tissue culture and costly or time-consuming production systems. 

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc’s President and CEO, said in a press release, "This first-in-human study could provide important information about how DNA-encoded products may be used to make systemically-available complex therapeutic proteins in a consistent, dose-dependent fashion.” 

The trial is led by Pablo Tebas, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 

This announcement is important since the Zika virus remains a health risk in over 90 countries around the world, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Moreover, nearly 1 in 7 babies born to women infected with the Zika virus while pregnant, had one or more health problems, possibly caused by the virus, reported a recent study.   

Zika is a flavivirus that is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. It was first identified in 1952, and outbreaks have been observed around the world—most recently in the Americas in 2015. 

Currently, there is no vaccine or therapy for the prevention or treatment of Zika virus infection.

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For the Zika dMAb trial, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has partnered with The Wistar Institute, with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.