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Pharmaceutical companies collaborate to develop a new ASF vaccine

19 May 2019, at 9:00am

Inovio and Plumbline Life Sciences establish Animal Health Collaboration to develop a novel vaccine against African swine fever.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc and Plumbline Life Sciences announced a collaboration to co-develop a novel animal health vaccine for African swine fever (ASF) virus. The vaccine will be developed using Inovio's SynCon® technology and delivered using CELLECTRA® efficacy-enabling devices. Plumbline, based in South Korea, will fund all development and commercialisation of the ASF vaccine. Inovio and Plumbline already have a license partnership in animal health fields and Inovio currently holds an approximately 15 percent equity ownership in Plumbline. As part of this agreement, Inovio will construct and test the ASF vaccine in small animal models. Plumbline will further test the vaccine in larger animal models, including in pig challenge models and further develop to commercialise the vaccine. Financial arrangements were not disclosed.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. There is no approved vaccine for ASF currently and the current outbreak in Asia is dramatically threatening the agricultural economies of many Asian countries including China, Vietnam and Korea. The disease is incurable in pigs but innocuous to humans.

Dr Laurent Humeau, Inovio's Chief Scientific Officer, said "We are extremely pleased to apply Inovio's Synthetic Nucleics platform to develop a vaccine to combat this deadly pig virus. Inovio has a track record of developing novel emerging infectious disease vaccines and we are pleased to work with Plumbline to further test and commercialize an ASF vaccine."

Anthony K. Kim, President and CEO of Plumbline said, "Plumbline is very excited to collaborate with Inovio to advance a new vaccine for this horrible threat for animal health and agricultural food supplies. Plumbline has a proven track record of commercialising DNA-based therapies for animal health as we have the distinction of having our product for pigs, LifeTide®SW5, already approved in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. We will devote our full resources to commercialise a vaccine for ASF as rapidly as possible."

The current official estimates count 1 million pigs have already been culled in China but the slaughter data suggest 100 times more could be removed from China's 440 million-strong swine herd in 2019. The US Department of Agriculture forecast in April a decline in China of 134 million head — equivalent to the entire annual output of American pigs — and the worst slump since the department began counting China's pigs in the mid 1970s.