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TheStreet Open House

Inovio's CEO Defends Swine Flu Drug (Part 2)

Stocks in this article: INO

This is the second part of a two-part series on Inovio Biomedical. Click here for the first part.

SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- Inovio Biomedical (INO - Get Report), a little-known biotech company, has been developing and studying an influenza vaccine that it says can protect against swine-flu -- or any flu for that matter. But the firm's history to date -- and the propensity of drug-development companies far and wide for pumping their various H1N1-related cures and tinctures -- raises doubts.

In an interview with TheStreet, Inovio chief executive J. Joseph Kim attempted to allay the skepticism.

For one thing, he said, the company's work on flu vaccines long predates the swine flu scare: "We didn't just jump on the bandwagon."

Kim came to Inovio only in June, when the firm acquired a private vaccine-development startup called VGX Pharmaceuticals. Along with microbiologist David Weiner, Kim helped found VGX in 2000 based on a DNA vaccine formula licensed from the labs at the University of Pennsylvania, where Weiner teaches at the medical school. With that technology, VGX had been working on a flu vaccine since 2007.

The big idea behind the SynCon treatment is that it would be universal. Unlike traditional vaccines that must be re-built from scratch each year to deal with new influenza strains and mutations, universal vaccines could simply be tweaked as new viruses emerge in the populace.

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