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Inovio posts “exceptional” results for HIV vaccine

Published on 25/05/17 at 09:34am
IMAGE: C. Goldsmith

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has been working on HIV vaccines for a long time and, eight years after signing a $25 million contract with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the long gestation period is proving to have born something remarkable. It posted results from a trial of its Pennvax-GP vaccine that showed 94% of participants demonstrated an antibody response.

The results are some of the most impressive released for a HIV vaccine; in this particular case, the vaccine is a combination of four HIV antigens that, if effective, could protect patients from multiple global HIV strains and allow the patient’s immune system to prevent and fight off the virus.

In the clinical trial, 71 out of 76 (93%) participants displayed a CD4+ or CD8+ cellular immune response to at least one of the vaccine antigens. As well as this, 62 of 66 (94%) of those involved demonstrated an env specific antibody response. The trial contained nine placebo control participants, with none displaying any cellular or antibody response during the study.

Dr. De Rosa, the Protocol Co-Chair of the HVTN 098 study, said, “The preliminary results of HVTN 098 are remarkable for a number of reasons. In HVTN 098, nearly all individuals vaccinated with the regimens including IL-12 had detectable CD4 responses and over half had CD8 T cell responses. Similarly, the antibody response rate was 100% or close to 100% for several of the env antigens tested in the assay. Thus, these high response rates are exceptional. Further studies will be needed to determine if this vaccine candidate can safely and effectively prevent HIV infection.”

The vaccine is administered alongside a DNA encoded immune activator, IL12. The doses were administered both via intradermal or intramuscular administration, with intradermal vaccine administration containing a 1/5th of the dose of vaccine in comparison. However, participant response was found to be consistent between the two methods.

Inovio signed a further five-year contract with back in 2015, worth $16 million, to continue development of its vaccine. The extra time given looks to have paid off all round – especially for Inovio, as its shares spiked by as much as 38% on the release of the results.

Ben Hargreaves

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