Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has exercised its option to provide an additional $24 million to support the Inovio-led development of multiple treatment and prevention approaches against Ebola. The option exercise, part of the $45 million Ebola program grant announced in April when Inovio received an initial $21 million award, was contingent upon Inovio successfully leading the completion of certain preclinical and clinical development milestones.
DARPA has funded the program to develop a DNA-based vaccine against Ebola, a therapeutic DNA-based monoclonal antibody product (dMAb) to treat Ebola infection, and a conventional monoclonal antibody to treat Ebola.
Inovio is leading a collaboration of industry and academic partners in an effort to prevent and treat Ebola including: MedImmune, the global biologics R&D arm of AstraZeneca; GeneOne Life Sciences of Korea and its U.S. manufacturing subsidiary, VGXI; the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; and researchers at Emory University and Vanderbilt University.
DARPA, an agency of the Department of Defense that creates and supports novel technologies important for national security, has selected Inovio to develop products that if successful can add to the arsenal of rapid response capabilities. Inovio’s Ebola program is initially targeted to treat first responders and Ebola-infected health care workers and patients, but could potentially be widely utilized to stem the spread of an Ebola outbreak.