Inovio Pharmaceuticals has reported promising data from the preclinical studies of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, IN0-480, in mice and guinea pigs.

The candidate allegedly generated ‘robust’ neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Inovio and its partners at The Wistar Institute, the University of Texas, Public Health England, Fudan University and Advaccine published these findings in Nature Communications journal.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals R&D senior vice-president and Covid-19 vaccine development team lead Dr Kate Broderick said: “These positive preclinical results from our Covid-19 DNA vaccine (INO-4800) not only highlight the potency of our DNA medicines platform but also build on our previously reported positive Phase I/IIa data from our vaccine against the coronavirus that causes MERS, which demonstrated near-100% seroconversion and neutralisation from a similarly designed vaccine INO-4700.

“The potent neutralising antibody and T cell immune responses generated in multiple animal models are supportive of our currently on-going INO-4800 clinical trials.”

INO-4800 targets the major surface antigen Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Three separate neutralisation assays showed the vaccine candidate’s virus neutralising activity and ability to produce antibodies that can block the infection.

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Researchers also observed antibodies in the lungs of the vaccinated animals, considered significant for offering protection from the virus.

Also, high levels of Spike-specific T-cell responses were found in animals vaccinated with INO-4800, said to play a key role in mediating protection.

The company expects to report preliminary safety and immune responses data from a Phase I clinical trial next month. Furthermore, a Phase II/III efficacy trial has been planned for launch in July/August, pending regulatory approval

Earlier this month, Inovio signed an agreement with German contract manufacturer Richter-Helm BioLogics for large-scale production of INO-4800.