SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Like Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and many others, INOVIO Pharmaceuticals has also raced to develop a COVID-19 vaccine this year.
“We’ve been working really hard to move our vaccine through the stages of clinical testing. Some things have taken a little bit longer than we hoped. I think that’s kind of always the case when you’re trying to go at great light speed,” said Dr. Kate Broderick, INOVIO Pharmaceuticals Senior VP of Research & Development based in San Diego.
Broderick said with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, the biotech company started its Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating its DNA vaccine candidate, INO-4800.
The first U.S. participants received a dose of the experimental vaccine earlier this month. Approximately 400 adults in the U.S. are expected to be enrolled in the trial by the end of the month.
“We hope that in the early part of 2021, we’ll be going into a really large Phase 3 trial where we’re asking the question does our vaccine protect against the disease itself,” she said.
Broderick said the company hopes to enroll about 6,000 participants initially in its Phase 3 trial once they get the green light to begin.
A press release from the company last week stated that “The Phase 3 segment of the INNOVATE remains on partial clinical hold until INOVIO satisfactorily resolves the FDA’s remaining questions related to the CELLECTRA 2000 device that will be used to deliver INO-4800 into the cells of the skin.”
Earlier data released from Pfizer and Moderna’s studies showing high vaccine efficacy was positive news for INOVIO.
“We feel that we’re in a really good place. There’s eight billion people on the planet, and we’re certainly going to need quite a few different types of vaccines to ensure everybody is protected,” she said. “The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are RNA vaccines; ours is DNA vaccine”
Broderick said one significant benefit of INOVIO’S DNA vaccine candidate is it doesn’t have to be stored in low-temperature freezers, making it easier to ship out worldwide if approved.
“In fact, we can keep it at room temperature, sitting on a desk somewhere for a year with no impact,” she said.
INOVIO is projecting to have 100 million doses of its vaccine ready in 2021.
“With these vaccines being approved, there is definitely an end in sight, but don’t let your guard down too fast,” she said. “Unfortunately, until everyone in the country gets vaccinated, we will still have to adhere to those kinds of annoying things, wearing masks, socially distancing. I know it’s frustrating, especially before the holidays, but just keep yourself safe and the people you love safe.”