Plymouth Meeting’s Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that testing of its synthetic vaccine for the Zika virus induced robust antibody and T-cell responses in monkeys, demonstrating the product’s potential to prevent infection from this harmful pathogen.
As a result, Inovio will conduct human studies later this year.
The company synthetically generated DNA vaccine constructs targeting multiple Zika virus antigens using its SynCon vaccine technology. These SynCon constructs were administered using Inovio’s CELLECTRA electroporation delivery technology.
Two doses of the Zika DNA vaccine delivered either intramuscularly or intradermally resulted in seroconversion, or the development of detectable specific antibodies in the blood, in all vaccinated non-human primates.
Researchers also observed that vaccination generated robust and broad T-cell responses as analyzed by the standardized T-cell ELISPOT assay. These findings are vital given the potential importance of neutralizing antibodies in preventing infection and the role T cells play in clearing infection by killing cells that harbor the virus.
“With positive large animal results in hand, we are moving aggressively to initiate and conduct our first Zika vaccine human trial in 2016,” said Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s President and CEO.
First identified in Uganda, the Zika virus subsequently spread to equatorial Asia and, over the past two years, has rapidly spread through the South Pacific, including Hawaii, and to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.