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New Phase 2b Study of Experimental Hepatitis C Vaccine ChronVac-C

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals this week announced that its partner ChronTech has started a new Phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate an investigational therapeutic hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine candidate known as ChronVac-C. In early studies the vaccine increased T-cell responses against HCV, suppressed viral load, and appeared to be safe and well-tolerated.

Below is an edited excerpt from the recent Inovio press release describing the new trial.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals' Partner ChronTech Initiates Phase II Clinical Trial of Hepatitis C Virus DNA Vaccine Using Inovio's Electroporation Delivery Technology
In Phase I trial 83% of patients showed undetectable hepatitis C virus levels Blue Bell, Pa. -- March 14, 2011 -- Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against cancers and infectious diseases, announced today that its partner, ChronTech Pharma AB (formerly Tripep AB), has initiated a Phase IIb clinical study of its ChronVac-C DNA vaccine for hepatitis C virus (HCV), delivered by Inovio's proprietary electroporation DNA vaccine delivery technology, in combination with standard of care.
In a Phase I clinical trial of ChronVac-C using Inovio's MedPulser electroporation device the therapy resulted in a robust increase in T-cell immune responses against HCV and was safe and well-tolerated. Post-study observation of subjects who completed the protocol and then entered into standard of care (SOC) treatment using interferon and ribavirin showed a complete and rapid viral response (four weeks) in 70% of those participants (5 of 7 patients). More significantly, 83% of the participants (5 of 6 patients) who were monitored for an extended period of time, continued to be free of the virus six months after they completed SOC. SOC treatment alone usually results in about 40-50% of patients reaching undetectable virus levels after six months of treatment.
This Phase II follow-on trial is an open-label, single-dose, randomized trial of 32 patients to further explore the effect of the ChronVac-C DNA vaccine administered by Inovio's MedPulser electroporation delivery device. The therapy will be given two times, with four weeks in between, followed by SOC treatment after the final vaccine dose in treatment-naive chronic HCV infected genotype-1 subjects. This trial will assess the level of immune responses, levels of HCV viral load, and further assess the response to the delivery technology. Twenty patients will receive ChronVac-C vaccine delivered with Inovio's electroporation device; the 12-patient comparison group will receive standard-of-care treatment alone. The study has received approval from the Swedish Medical Products Agency and local ethical committee.

"If we can repeat the Phase I results in this phase IIb study there is certainly a possibility that vaccination with ChronVac-C before drug therapy could become a part of the standard of care therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis C-virus infection. In particular, we hope that vaccination with this novel therapy will result in a considerable shortening of the duration of interferon and ribavirin treatment," said Anders Vahlne, CEO of ChronTech Pharma AB.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president and CEO, said: "We are encouraged by the phase I results showing the improved cure rate in patients who received the HCV vaccine followed by a SOC drug therapy. Any improvement to the HCV standard of care response rates would be well-received by HCV patients and practitioners. We are pleased to collaborate in this advancement of ChronVac-C, using Inovio's innovative delivery technology, into Phase II."
About Inovio's Electroporation-Based Delivery Technology
Inovio's electroporation-based DNA delivery systems can increase the cellular uptake of an agent by 1,000 times or more. When used to deliver DNA vaccines, Inovio's systems can increase levels of gene expression (i.e. production of the coded protein) and immune responses by 100 times or more compared to plasmid DNA delivered without other delivery enhancements. Inovio has recently reported best-in-class immune responses with DNA vaccines for cervical dysplasias/cancers and HIV. Inovio has also shown the safety and tolerability of its electroporation devices in many hundreds of patients and continues to advance device innovations to further enhance the utility of these devices for mass vaccinations.

About Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Inovio is developing a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, to treat and prevent cancers and infectious diseases. These SynCon vaccines are designed to provide broad cross-strain protection against known as well as newly emergent strains of pathogens such as influenza. These vaccines, in combination with Inovio's proprietary electroporation delivery devices, have been shown to be safe and generate significant immune responses. Inovio's clinical programs include HPV/cervical dysplasia and cancer (therapeutic), avian flu (preventive), and HIV vaccines (both preventive and therapeutic). Inovio is developing universal influenza and other vaccines in collaboration with scientists from the University of Pennsylvania. Other partners and collaborators include Merck, National Cancer Institute, U.S. Military HIV Research Program, NIH, HIV Vaccines Trial Network, University of Southampton, and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. More information is available at www.inovio.com.  

3/18/11

Source
Inovio Pharmaceuticals. Inovio Pharmaceuticals' Partner ChronTech Initiates Phase II Clinical Trial of Hepatitis C Virus DNA Vaccine Using Inovio's Electroporation Delivery Technology. Press release. March 14, 2011.