Grant Provides Funding to Help Prepare New Zika Therapy for Human TrialsInovio Already in Two Human Trials for its Preventive Zika Vaccine PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. & PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 01, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) announced today that it has been awarded a $6.1 million sub-grant through The Wistar Institute to develop a DNA-based monoclonal antibody designed to provide a fast-acting treatment against Zika infection and its debilitating effects. The goal of this program, which is funded by a grant to The Wistar Institute from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is for the researchers to develop a Zika dMAb ® therapy ready for human clinical trials in less than two years. There is no approved therapeutic or vaccine for Zika infection, presenting a major unmet medical need given that the World Health Organization estimates that more than two billion people are directly at risk for infection. Importantly, infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy can cause a pattern of birth defects including microcephaly. This new DNA-based monoclonal antibody technology has properties that best fit a response to address a Zika outbreak in that dMAb products can be designed and manufactured expediently on a large scale using common fermentation technology, are thermal-stable, and may be used as a therapy to provide more rapid protection from or limit the spread of Zika infection. Unlike vaccines, monoclonal antibody-based therapies could provide more immediate protection but do not develop long term immune memory. An ideal approach would therefore include the administration of a dMAb product for immediate protection and a DNA vaccine to train the immune system for longer-term, persistent protection against Zika infection. Inovio's optimized DNA-based immunotherapy platform is uniquely positioned to target both immediate therapy through delivery of dMAb products as well as long-term immunity via DNA vaccination.