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from Newsworks by Jessica McDonald

Without any effective treatments for Ebola, health officials in West Africa are in desperate need of a vaccine to keep the virus from spreading. Stepping into that void, among others, is Inovio Pharmaceuticals of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

President and CEO of Inovio, Joseph Kim, said beginning early next year their DNA-based vaccine will be given to 30 volunteers. The phase I human trial will test for safety and preliminary signs of efficacy based on analysis of blood samples for the appropriate immune responses.

The Inovio vaccine contains bits of Ebola virus DNA that correspond to its surface sugar coating, or glycoprotein. Once delivered into cells, those sequences can trigger the body to make protective antibodies and T cells that can go on the attack in case of infection. The technology was pioneered by David Weiner, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who currently serves on Inovio’s scientific advisory board and also helped co-found a precursor to the company.

“What makes us different is our DNA-based vaccine approach that allows us to engineer a cross-protective immune response not just against a single strain,” said Kim, “but provide a greater, bigger umbrella-coverage.”

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Chris Hebel

About the author - Chris Hebel

More than 20 years experience at early stage Biotechnology companies encompassing both product/process development work and entrepreneurial business development work. Mr. Hebel now acts as a consultant to early stage companies developing and commercializing various biotechnology products based on cutting edge technologies.

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