Inovio's Foot and Mouth Disease DNA Vaccine Licensed to Plumbline Life Sciences

August 19, 2016
Kristi Rosa

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that it has licensed their FMD DNA vaccine to Plumbline Life Sciences, a vaccine that targets multiple serotypes of the FMD infection.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a company dedicated to the ongoing fight against cancers and infectious diseases, has just made an announcement that they have licensed a veterinary vaccine to treat the highly contagious foot and mouth disease (FMD) to Plumbline Life Sciences, an animal biopharmaceutical company located in South Korea. In addition to Plumbline funding all development-focused activities regarding the FMD vaccine, they will also grant Inovio with milestone payments in addition to royalties on product sales for commercial rights to the vaccine in Asia, excluding Japan, according to the press release.

This is not the first time that Inovio has done business with Plumbline Life Sciences. In 2014, they sold other animal health assets from their subsidiary VGX Animal Health, Inc., to Plumbline in exchange for money as well as an equity position within the company, according to the press release.

FMD has continued to pose a threat to food safety worldwide as it typically affects livestock such as goats, sheep, cattle, and swine. Highly infectious, once livestock are exposed to the virus, the herds are culled. According to the press release, in 2001, an outbreak in the UK resulted in $10 billion (USD) lost as well as four million slaughtered livestock. Similarly, in 2011, an epidemic of FMD virus in South Korea resulted in almost 3.3 million culled animals in an effort to prevent spreading of the disease.

Nicola Parry, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS, DipACVP, Midwest Veterinary Pathology, LLC, Lafayette, IN, commented, “FMD is endemic in many areas of the world where pigs are reared, and is a serious economic and public health problem. Although vaccination is used in countries in which the disease is endemic, it is typically avoided in FMD-free countries, in particular because of the risk of causing an outbreak, but also because vaccines are expensive and tend to offer only short-term protection. However, compared with traditional vaccines, DNA vaccines offer several potential advantages: they are based on DNA instead of infectious virus, and, therefore, cannot cause disease in vaccinated animals; they are also less costly and induce both humoral and cellular immune responses.”

Previous studies of Inovio’s FMD DNA vaccine, given to both sheep and pigs, had showed its potential to protect livestock animals from infection.

When discussing Inovio’s previous studies, Parry said, “in a preclinical study in pigs that received the FMD DNA vaccine containing 4 of the most common serotypes of the FMD virus, a single vaccination produced high titer, antigen-specific antibody responses for each serotype—and these levels increased after a second vaccination. Vaccinated animals also developed high T-cell responses. FMD DNA vaccination therefore has important implications for improving animal health as well as protecting against devastating economic losses."

Due to the fact that FMD spreads so quickly and results in high morbidity of livestock as well as high economic loss, there is a need for the development of effective vaccines. According to the press release, Inovio’s SynCon technology allows for rapid development of vaccines that will cover a number of serotypes of FMD all at the same time, in one vaccine. In addition, Inovio has both tested and created DNA vaccine constructs that target all seven of the main serotypes of FMD.

J. Joseph Kim, PhD, said, “With Inovio’s focus on human immunotherapies to fight cancers and infectious diseases, we want to monetize non-core assets. This is our second license agreement with Plumbline to enable the development of animal health products and market opportunities. FMD pandemics area worldwide threat to food supply and society for which Inovio’s FMD vaccine could provide a global solution.”