The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development, is part of a team working to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The announcement was made by The Wistar Institute in late January and has received significant regional media coverage.

The collaboration, which includes Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania; VGXI, Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas; and Twist Bioscience of South San Francisco in California, is funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).  Based in Oslo, Norway, CEPI is a global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations that work together to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to the vaccines during outbreaks.

According to Wistar, “CEPI will fund nearly $9 million to support pre-clinical and clinical research for a vaccine advanced by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), based in part on key technology generated in the lab of David B. Weiner, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Director of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and the W.W. Smith Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at The Wistar Institute. Wistar’s participation in this developing initiative is based on its experience and suitability of its DNA technology platform to rapidly translate a vaccine against an emerging virus with pandemic potential. Prior work by this team includes development of vaccines for Ebola, Zika, and MERS, another coronavirus, during those recent outbreaks.”

“Wistar feels compelled to deploy its expertise and its technological advancements to combat global emerging infectious diseases as part of its mission and is proud to be part of one of the first initiatives to approach this evolving global health threat,” Weiner said.

Editors’ Note: last Thursday, March 12, Inovio announced that it has received a new $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the testing and scale up of its proprietary smart device for the intradermal delivery of INO-4800, the DNA vaccine for COVID-19 described above. Inovio plans to accelerate the testing and scale up of the devices to support large scale manufacturing of INO-4800 doses by the end of 2020.