Fighting FMD With DNA Vaccine

US - Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced compelling results in a study of its DNA vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) administered by Inovio's proprietary vaccine delivery technology.
calendar icon 2 March 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The preclinical data was highlighted by Dr Niranjan Y. Sardesai, Inovio's Sr. VP of Research and Development, at the Vaccine World Summit being held in New Delhi, India, March 1–3. The presentation, entitled "Electroporation Mediated Delivery of DNA Vaccines: Translating the Promise to Prophylactic Vaccination," focused on Inovio's recent developments to advance novel vaccines for several emerging pathogens, including foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Chikungunya, and dengue viruses.

The FMD virus is one of the most infectious diseases affecting farm animals including cattle, swine, sheep and goats, and is a serious threat to global food safety. Once an area is exposed to FMD, livestock & dairy exports are ceased and herds are culled. For example, in a major FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001, more than four million animals were slaughtered, resulting in more than $10 billion (USD) in economic losses. In a current FMD epidemic in South Korea, more than 3.3 million animals, mostly swine, have been culled in an attempt to keep the disease from spreading.

Because FMD can spread rapidly and beyond regional boundaries there is a need to develop vaccines that can simultaneously target different regional serotypes of FMD in a single vaccine. Inovio's SynCon™ technology enables rapid development of vaccines that can cover multiple serotypes simultaneously with a single formulation. Inovio, its subsidiary, VGX Animal Health (VAH), and its academic collaborators generated and tested SynCon™ DNA vaccine constructs targeting all seven main FMD virus serotypes, moving from antigen design to large animal testing in only a few months.

In a study conducted in pigs, just a single vaccination with an Inovio FMD vaccine comprising four of the most common FMD serotypes generated high titer, antigen-specific antibody responses for each serotype in the vaccinated animals. The responses were boosted even higher with a second immunization. High levels of T-cell responses were also measured in the vaccinated animals. All vaccines were administered intramuscularly with Inovio's CELLECTRA® electroporation delivery system.

There are several potential advantages of Inovio's FMD DNA vaccine:

  • Inovio's SynCon™ DNA vaccine cannot cause disease, which is a possibility using current killed viral FMD vaccines due to incomplete virus inactivation. This limits current vaccination to herds that may be imminently exposed to FMD. Inovio's vaccine would permit truly preventive vaccination.

  • Inovio's SynCon™ universal vaccine is designed to generate broader, cross-protective immune responses across different FMD serotypes, unlike existing vaccines that must be matched to the FMD serotype.

  • Current FMD vaccines display the same multiple proteins as the actual virus. Healthy vaccinated animals can therefore not be distinguished from infected animals, frequently leading to the slaughter of uninfected herds.

  • Inovio's SynCon vaccine is encoded for a single antigen (VP1 protein) common across FMD serotypes. Because it is a synthetic consensus antigen unmatched to naturally existing FMD strains, a blood test can distinguish non-infected vaccinated animals from naturally infected animals. This could potentially reduce the slaughter of healthy animals in outbreak areas.

  • Better thermal stability of Inovio's product overcomes the challenge of expensive and/or unavailable cold storage and transport in developing countries at high risk of FMD outbreaks.

Dr J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's President and CEO, said: "Foot-and-mouth pandemics are a great threat to global food supply and society. Recent outbreaks in Europe and Asia have wreaked havoc in those areas and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. We at Inovio and VGX Animal Health are extremely pleased with the advancement of our new SynCon™ DNA vaccine for FMD through large animal pilot testing and we look forward to the further development of this important vaccine."

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