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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Gets $71M for Vaccine-Delivery Device

Inovio received $71 million from the Pentagon to ramp output of a device that delivers the coronavirus vaccine into the skin.
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Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Free Report said Tuesday it received $71 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to ramp production of the biotech company's smart devices that administer its experimental coronavirus vaccine, INO-4800, into the skin.

Shares of the Plymouth Meeting, Pa., company at last check were up nearly 13% to $17.27. 

Inovio's smart device, the Cellectra 3PSP, is a handheld device that runs on AA batteries. It's designed to deliver INO-4800 directly into the skin, where the vaccine prompts the body's immune system to respond, the company said. 

Last month, the company said INO-4800 showed promise by producing antibodies in mice and guinea pigs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the vaccine for testing in April. 

INO-4800 targets the major surface antigen protein that causes covid-19. And the Phase I trial showed that vaccination generated robust binding and neutralizing antibody as well as T-cell responses in animals. 

Phase I clinical studies of the vaccine will be available next month and a Phase II/III efficacy trial is planned for July or August, the company said.

The Defense Department contract builds on two separate $5 million grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. 

Initial development of the Cellectra 3PSP began in 2019 with $8.1 million in funding from the medical arm of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Medical CBRN Defense Consortium.

Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and chief executive, said the device has been used in clinical trials to dose more than 2,000 patients in more than 7,000 administrations of Inovio's DNA medicines. 

"The current DoD contract further supports Inovio's large-scale production of devices and arrays to deliver potentially hundreds of millions of doses of INO-4800 next year to combat the global covid-19 pandemic," he said.