Monday, 15 October 2012

Inovio Pharma's VGX Animal subsidiary gets pig treatment approved in New Zealand

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NYSE MKT:INO) (AMEX:INO) said today that its subsidiary, VGX Animal Health, has received approval to market LifeTide SW 5.0, what it called the world's first approved growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) therapy for food animals, in New Zealand. 
LifeTide is a "once-in-a-lifetime" treatment for female pigs, Inovio said, that has shown "significant decreases" in perinatal mortality of piglets from treated sows, versus untreated sows. 
Growth hormone releasing hormone, or GHRH, is a naturally occurring molecule that stimulates the body's pituitary gland to release growth hormone that it produces every day. 
The treatment, which the company says increases the number of weaned piglets and results in greater overall meat production, was previously approved in Australia. 
"We've seen that when perinatal mortality is significantly reduced, pork producers can quickly realize production and profit benefits never before imagined," said vice president of business development for VGX, Dr. Douglas Kern. 
Inovio said the New Zealand approval is particularly significant in that genetically modified (GMO) products are not allowed in the country. But VGX's treatment can enhance the genetic potential of the pig, without permanently altering its genetic makeup. 
The approval, the company said, is a testament to the "safety and sustainability" of its technology platform. 
Inovio also noted the step is important in the effort to feed a population that will require "a doubling of the amount of food we produce within the next four decades."
"This approval is another milestone for DNA plasmid therapy, where Inovio leads the world," said the company's CEO, Dr. J. Joseph Kim. 
"Our plasmid-based technology platform provided this breakthrough in animal health and has demonstrated in humans its safety and immune responses in therapeutic and preventive vaccines for cancer, HIV, influenza and other infectious diseases in proof-of-principle clinical studies."
Indeed, just last week, Inovio saw its stock surge after it showed for the first time that its therapeutic synthetic vaccine, VGX-3100, can kill cells changed by the human papillomavirus (HPV) into precancerous cervical dysplasias. 
HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and researchers have estimated the global prevalence of clinically pre-cancerous HPV infections at between 28 and 40 million.
Dr. Kim added: "We are investigating GHRH therapy in other veterinary as well as human disease areas since it has shown promise in treating a broad array of diseases such as cancer, HIV-associated lipodystrophy, diabetes, Alzheimer's and conditions that affect the kidney and heart."    
Earlier this year, the company reported that a study published in a peer-reviewed journal showed that LifeTide SW 1.0, an optimized version that requires only 20 per cent of the dose of the approved LifeTide SW 5.0, showed "significant decreases" in perinatal mortality, as well as an increase in the number of pigs born alive, and a rise in the weight and number of pigs weaned. 
These results were compared with the control group. Inovio also said it saw a "significant increase" in the lifespan of the treated sows in the study. 
VGX's GHRH product is used in female pigs of a breeding age. The LifeTide SW 5.0 is now approved in Australia and New Zealand. 

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