Prior research has also identified that a successful HCV vaccine must be able to induce not only strong HCV-specific T-cell responses that target several components of the virus but that these cells must migrate to the liver and remain activated. In this study, Inovio researchers observed in the liver not only NS4B-, NS5A- and NS5B-specific CD4+ and CD8+ (or killer T-cell) responses, but also a large pool of vaccine-specific T-cells. This pool of vaccine-specific T-cells was shown to be fully functional in an environment in which T-cell activity is usually suppressed. In fact, using a transient HCV infection model in mice, therapeutic immunization with INO-8000 was able to clear HCV antigens from the liver, demonstrating the therapeutic potential of this vaccine.
The pioneering preclinical research appears in the peer-reviewed journal Plos One in an article entitled: "Induction of Intrahepatic HCV NS4B, NS5A and NS5B Specific Cellular Immune Responses following Peripheral Immunization."
In addition to moving forward with INO-8000, Inovio has a long-standing partnership with ChronTech Pharma, which is developing its NS3/4A-based HCV DNA vaccine using Inovio's proprietary delivery technology. Interim results of ChronTech's open-label, randomized phase II trial are expected later in the first quarter of this year.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's President and CEO, said, "Inovio is a leader in developing therapeutic vaccines for HCV and HBV. The major hurdle to developing therapeutic vaccines for these ailments has been the inability to generate a functional T-cell response in the liver. The fact that our preclinical model demonstrated functional T-cells in the liver in this published study suggests that INO-8000 has the capacity to clear that hurdle. There have been important recent drug therapy advances for HCV; however, a safe and effective therapeutic vaccine could play a vital role in enhancing the potency of HCV treatments, especially for genotype 1, while achieving the desired goal of eliminating the use of interferon/ribavirin and their undesirable side effects."About Hepatitis C and Inovio's SynCon® Vaccines Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to liver failure or liver cancer. Approximately 80% of people who become infected with hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection.