The biotechnology company Inovio began a Phase 1 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine this week, with its first dose given to a subject at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday.
The Phase 1 trial is estimated to be completed by late summer of 2020, a spokesperson for Inovio told CNN in an email. It will enroll up to 40 healthy adult volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, according to a news release.
The Phase 1 trial is meant to establish that the vaccine is safe and induces a desired response from participants' immune systems. Proving that the vaccine is effective in preventing Covid-19 infection requires follow-up studies involving many more participants, which will take many more months.
“We anticipate rapid enrolment of this initial study,” Dr Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s principal investigator, said in the news release. “There has been tremendous interest in this vaccine among people who want to do what they can do to help protect the greater public from this pandemic as soon as possible.”
Similar to Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, which began Phase 1 testing in March, Inovio’s vaccine is also derived from genetic material. However, Inovio’s vaccine -- named INO-4800 -- is derived from DNA, not messenger RNA, which makes up Moderna’s vaccine.
Inovio received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
“In ten weeks from funding, INOVIO manufactured thousands of doses of INO-4800 to support on-going Phase 1 and planned Phase 2 clinical trials,” the news release said.