Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced it has received a U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research Grant to advance the development of a low-cost, non-invasive surface electroporation (EP) delivery device and test its utility in combination with Inovio's novel synthetic DNA vaccines against viruses with bioterrorism potential, including hanta, puumala, arenavirus and pandemic influenza. This project is a continuation of a first-stage DOD grant in 2011 that initiated Inovio's development of this skin delivery system.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president & CEO, said, "Our human studies have already demonstrated that our existing intradermal delivery device is very tolerable and able to facilitate strong immune responses from our synthetic vaccines. The second phase of this project will take the important step of assessing this further optimized surface EP device with challenge studies in animals of synthetic vaccines targeting challenging bioterrorism targets. We are pleased to continue our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense to create medical innovations with the potential to provide rapid, effective protection for both military and civilian populations."
In the first phase of this project, Inovio focused on optimizing the device design of its current minimally invasive surface EP device. In this second phase, the objective is to further advance and validate this device and the resulting immune responses in appropriate animal models. Inovio will also investigate the development and manufacture of low-cost sterile disposables for the device and the possibility of integrating dermal injection capabilities into a combined inject/EP device platform.
A low-cost, easy to use, tolerable device for the delivery of synthetic DNA vaccines would have direct applications by the military and healthcare sectors for mass vaccination. Inovio's current intradermal EP device penetrates to no more than 3 mm in depth, compared to intramuscular devices that go much deeper. Its minimally invasive surface EP device sits on the surface of the skin and uses a virtually undetectable scratch to facilitate delivery of the vaccine.