|Staff Reporter |||Apr 07, 2020 06:58 PM EDT|
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A new drug candidate that health experts hope would put an end to the coronavirus is entering the first phase of clinical human trials in the US.
This, after the Food and Drug Administration approved Inovio Pharmaceuticals' application under the FDA's Investigational New Drug Program.
Inovio expects to inject its first volunteer test subject with the INO-4800 DNA Vaccine it has created, following positive results from pre-clinical animal studies that have suggested an improved immune response.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals and the initiative obtained support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for Advances in Disease Preparedness. The INO-4800 DNA is the second potential vaccine to start human lab tests in the US. The Massachusetts biotech Moderna began a safety test middle of last month.
By way of his generous ventures and through his philanthropic group, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates announced that in collaboration with other companies and countries, he was funding many attempts to contain the ongoing crisis.
"Our early funding can accelerate things," Gates told Trevor Noah in his Daily Show. Gates said that of all the vaccines being developed, the seven most promising ones, even though we're going to end up choosing two of them, we are going to finance the facilities for all seven," he said.
The Inovio DNA vaccine works by injecting into a patient a specially modified plasmid so that their cells can develop a desired, targeted antibody to fight off a particular infection. DNA vaccines, although available and permitted in veterinary medicine for a variety of animal infections, have yet to be approved for human use.
Inovio had previously completed a Phase 1 test for a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) DNA vaccine candidate, where it showed promising results and a high level of antibodies developed in subjects that persisted for a long time.
Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the Infectious Disease Unit of the National Institutes of Health, has repeatedly said that it would take at least one year to learn if any vaccine is safe and effective against Covid-19.
For Inovio's vaccine trials, the pharma is enrolling up to 40 healthy adult volunteers at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Pharmaceutical Science in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins as of Monday morning, there are over 330,000 cases of coronavirus infection in the US, exceeding the rest of the world. "It is a nightmare scenario," Gates said, since respiratory virus transmission from human to human develops at a very fast rate.
Gates noted that with the implementation of social distancing and increased monitoring, both of which he had previously called for, the situation could change so that the total death toll would fall short of the White House's projected 100,000-240,000.
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