In a recent press release, Pennsylvania-based American biotechnology company Inovio Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: INO) reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a $5 million grant to support the accelerated evaluation and production of their “CELLECTRA 3PSP” medical device, which is integral to the intradermal delivery of their DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine INO-4800.
This funding from the foundation of Bill Gates and his spouse will support Inovio with the testing and application of INO-4800. The vaccine has been evaluated in preclinical studies and progressed to human trials in the United States, with the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial in April 2020.
President and CEO of Inovio Dr. J. Joseph Kim stated, “INOVIO is grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their continued investment in INOVIO’s DNA medicines platform and for their support for DNA vaccines to potentially protect those at risk globally given the current COVID-19 outbreak. Our team of vaccine experts are working around the clock to advance INO-4800 and we look forward to attracting additional partnerships to expedite its development to meet this urgent global health need.”
According to the press release, “The next generation CELLECTRA 3PSP device is designed specifically for a COVID-19 type pandemic scenario. It is a small, portable, hand-held, user-friendly device that runs on readily available “AA” batteries. This allows for stockpiling of the device in quantity without maintenance. It is easy to use and is based on our current device with extensive history (over 6,000 administrations) which has received the CE mark and has an acceptable safety profile. The streamlined design also allows it to be readily produced at reduced costs and large scale.”
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“The device has been designed with reliability, challenging environments, user needs and ease of large scale manufacturing in mind. INOVIO’s San Diego Device Manufacturing facility will build initial quantities and demonstrate the design and scale up of manufacturing processes which can then be transferred to additional contract manufacturers for increased capacity.”
“Initial development of CELLECTRA 3PSP was started in 2019 with $8.1 million funding from the medical arm of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)’s Medical CBRN Defense Consortium. The new funding will help to accelerate the testing and completion of the device development and scale up to combat the COVID-19 disease,” the press release stated.
Inovio intends to deliver one million doses of the INO-4800 vaccine by the end of 2020, and “is working to scale up both INO-4800 and CELLECTRA 3PSP devices to potentially make available millions of doses to combat this outbreak.”