Inovio to develop COVID-19 DNA-encoded monoclonal antibodies

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

December 15, 2020 -- Inovio, along with a team of scientists from the Wistar Institute, AstraZeneca, the University of Pennsylvania, and Indiana University, has received a $37.6 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, to develop COVID-19 treatments.

The grant is for the use of Inovio's DNA-encoded monoclonal antibody (dMAb) technology to develop anti-SARS-CoV-2-specific dMAbs, which could function as both a therapeutic and preventive treatment for COVID-19.

The public-private partnership means Inovio can not only broaden the scope and application of its DNA medicines, but also open the door for better patient administration and more cost-effective, scalable production of monoclonal antibody products for other infectious diseases and cancers, the firm said.

Under the two-year grant, Inovio and Wistar will construct COVID-19 dMAb candidates mirroring AstraZeneca's traditional recombinant monoclonal antibody candidates that are currently being tested in clinical trials. The dMAb candidates can be developed and produced in vivo, which offers a cost-effective and scalable therapeutic option, the firm said.

Afterward, the dMAb candidates will be advanced into preclinical studies and then into first-in-human clinical trials within one year of funding.

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