Inovio Pharmaceuticals (AMEX:INO) announced Wednesday that it has won the Edward Jenner Poster Award First Prize for its research to develop a therapeutic, synthetic vaccine for cancer, at the recent fifth Vaccine and ISV Global Congress.
Inovio's poster, entitled "Induction of HPV specific CTLs in human volunteers after DNA immunization," was selected from over 500 abstracts by the scientific organizing committee and an expert panel of judges, the company said.
The award citation highlighted Inovio's therapeutic cervical dysplasia and cancer vaccine program, as well as the assay for determining vaccine impact.
The Vaccine Congress is a report on the latest progress in the development of vaccines for infectious and non-infectious diseases. The annual Jenner Award is named after Edward Jenner (1749-1823), who is widely credited as the pioneer of the smallpox vaccine and is often referred to as the "Father of Immunology."
Inovio presented data showing the development of a new assay used to test cytolytic T cell activity in immunized patients. Blood samples collected from subjects immunized with Inovio's SynCon therapeutic HPV vaccine (VGX-3100) were analyzed by the new assay.
The company previously announced the results of its phase one clinical trial of the vaccine, demonstrating strong T-cell immune responses. But the important aspect of the vaccine is its ability to generate antigen-specific cytolytic T cells that can kill infected host cells.
Using the new assay, Inovio scientists were able to demonstrate for the first time that the vaccines developed fully functional cytolytic T cells capable of killing targets in an antigen-specific manner -- a finding that may prove crucial to the success of an effective therapy for HPV-related disease.
More than 30 to 40 types of the HPV virus are typically transmitted through sexual contact and cause genital warts. Persistent infection with "high-risk" HPV types may progress to precancerous lesions and cancer.
Inovio president and CEO, Dr. J. Joseph Kim, said: "We greatly appreciate this recognition of Inovio's leadership and innovation in advancing the development of novel vaccines and analytical methods to assess vaccine effects.
"Our SynCon vaccines administered with our proprietary electroporation delivery systems have generated best-in-class immune responses in our Phase I clinical trials for cervical dysplasia and HIV.
"The demonstration of antigen-specific CTL activity induced by Inovio's synthetic vaccines delivered by its proprietary CELLECTRA electroporation system speaks well for our synthetic vaccine platform in general and in particular for our cancer vaccine programs."
Inovio has active therapeutic vaccine programs for HPV types associated with cervical dysplasia/cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia , prostate cancer, hepatitis C virus and HIV.