Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Inovio Pharmaceuticals expands synthetic vaccine license with UPenn

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NYSE MKT: INO) says it has expanded its existing license agreement with the University of Pennsylvania, adding worldwide rights to technology and IP for new synthetic vaccines for a number of indications. 
The company said the technologies under the expanded license agreement were developed by UPenn professor David B. Weiner, and collaborators. Weiner is chairman of Inovio's scientific advisory board. 
All newly licensed products are in preclinical development, Inovio added. 
In the new agreement, Inovio gains rights to synthetic vaccines to prevent and/or treat intestinal infections like C. difficile - an illness that most often affects older adults in hospitals. Its incidence has doubled in the past 10 years. 
It also gains rights for new cancer therapeutic vaccines targeting Wilm's tumor gene, or WT1 - which is highly expressed in leukemia and various types of solid tumors, and vaccines for biodefense pathogens. 
The biodefense pathogens include the Ebola virus, and the family of Filovirus such as Marbug-disease causing agents that could potentially be used in bioterror attacks. 
"Our synthetic vaccine technology offers the potential to prevent and/or treat a broad array of cancers and infectious diseases, and has achieved best-in-class immune responses in human studies," said president and CEO, Dr. J. Joseph Kim, in a statement Wednesday. 
"This new intellectual property from an eminent synthetic vaccine research laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania broadens our opportunities to pursue important new infectious diseases, cancers and biodefense targets."
Inovio's SynCon vaccines are designed to provide two capabilities not achievable with conventional vaccines: stimulation of T-cell immune responses to provide therapeutic capabilities, and universal cross-strain protection and treatment against known as well as newly emergent unmatched strains of pathogens. The company already has clinical programs for cervical dysplasia, leukemia, the hep C virus, the flu and HIV.
This is because under the terms of the original license agreement with UPenn in 2007, Inovio obtained worldwide rights to develop multiple DNA vaccines with the potential to treat and/or prevent HIV, hep C, HPV and the flu. 
This deal was expanded in 2010, to include pandemic flu, and foot-and-mouth disease, among other diseases, after which it added last year IP for prostate cancer, hep B, MRSA and malaria, among others. 
These agreements provide for milestone payments, and royalty payments, based on sales, to the University of Pennsylvania.
Earlier this week, the company said that its synthetic and therapeutic hepatitis B vaccine generated strong T cell responses that eliminated targeted liver cells in mice, pointing to the vaccine's potential to clear the infection and prevent liver cancer. 

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