- Inovio won a $71 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to bolster manufacturing of the device it uses to deliver its coronavirus vaccine.
- The funding will help spur large-scale production of the Cellectra 3PSP device and may pave the way for delivery of hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine next year, Inovio said in a June 23 release. Previously, the company had committed to producing 1 million doses this year.
- News of the cash infusion comes as Inovio prepares to release results from a phase 1 trial of its INO-4800 vaccine in the coming days. Assuming positive results, the company plans to start a late-stage trial as early as July.
The contract helps fill a crucial need for Inovio as it works to ramp up production of its coronavirus vaccine. Inovio is competing with industry giants such as Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sanofi, which each have the might to make and distribute a vaccine at a global scale.
Inovio’s vaccine delivery device uses an electric pulse to open small channels in cells, allowing delivery of DNA plasmids that are meant to help produce an immune response to the novel coronavirus.
That process is a lot more complicated than the traditional syringe, making the manufacturing of these devices a unique and critical task for the company. And its efforts have been complicated by a legal battle with VGXI and GeneOne Life Science, the companies it originally hired to produce its DNA plasmids.
Inovio claims that VGXI can't fulfill its full order or handle the company's needs for commercial production. It’s trying to compel VGXI and GeneOne Life Science to transfer technology and manufacturing methods after engaging new suppliers, Ology Bioservices and Richter-Helm BioLogics.
VGXI said it was surprised by the court filing and called Inovio’s allegations inaccurate. “VGXI has been and continues to be a good manufacturing partner to Inovio,” the company said in a June 4 statement.
Despite being one of the smaller players in the race to create a vaccine that prevents coronavirus disease, Inovio was among the first to start clinical trials.
The Cellectra 3PSP device builds on an earlier version that has been used to dose more than 2,000 patients with Inovio’s DNA medicines, the company said. The device can be stockpiled in large quantities and doesn’t require maintenance, it said.
In addition to the latest funding, Inovio received $8.1 million from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Medical CBRN Defense Consortium in 2019. It’s also won $5 million grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.