Inovio Pharmaceuticals Will Independently Develop Prostate Cancer Immunotherapy

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Will Independently Develop Prostate Cancer Immunotherapy

shutterstock_176547491Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that it has finished a 2013 licensing agreement with Roche to co-develop INO-5150, Inovio’s investigational drug targeting prostate cancer. Furthermore, both companies will no longer collaborate in prostate cancer research.

Importantly, all the rights that Roche held towards INO-5150 will be returned to Inovio, which will independently continue with a Phase I clinical trial to test the drug in the beginning of 2015.

Nonetheless, both companies will remain in collaboration to develop Inovio’s DNA immunotherapy (INO-1800) against hepatitis B virus.

INO-5150 is a dual-antigen synthetic DNA immunotherapy directed towards the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

Previous studies using animal models have shown that vaccination with the drug could efficiently produce a strong T-cell immune response, the highest verified so far in a PSA-targeting immunotherapy.

“The Inovio/Roche partnership will continue to thrive focusing on the development of INO-1800 for the treatment of hepatitis B. In addition to recently demonstrating clinical efficacy and the ability to induce potent antigen specific CD8+ T cell responses in our VGX-3100 phase II study, Inovio will be moving a broad portfolio of immuno-oncology products through development, including INO-3112 (head/neck and cervical cancers), INO-1400 (breast, lung and pancreatic cancers) and INO-5150 (prostate cancer). We believe that these products along with pre-phase III VGX-3100 will further our growth and represent opportunities for additional value-adding partnerships”, said Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s president & CEO, in a press release.

Inovio’s INO-5150 is part of the SynCon® DNA vaccine technology developed by the company to target prostate cancer. Based on synthetic immunogens derived from human and macaque sequences, researchers were able to create amino acid sequences that are vaguely different from the original human protein. This in turn helps the body to recognize cancer cells as foreign, mounting an effective immune response against these cells, and clearing the organism from these undesired tumor precursors.