The U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a two-year, $37.6 million grant to a team of scientists involving INOVIO, AstraZeneca, University of Pennsylvania, and the Wistar Institute and Indiana University to develop an anti-SARS-CoV-2 specific DNA-encoded monoclonal antibody (dMAb) as a therapeutic and preventive treatment targeting COVID-19. DARPA, the DoD’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical Biological and Nuclear Defense’s research and development agency, indicates INOVIO, developer of a vaccine candidate as well targeting COVID-19, as well as Wistar will develop COVID-19 dMAb candidates that mirror the UK’s AstraZeneca traditional recombinant monoclonal antibody product candidates. These dMAB candidates will be tested in preclinical studies and if successful there, human trials within one year of funding. This deal showcases the continued demand for various therapies targeting COVID-19 in addition to ongoing vaccine efforts. This deal was showcased along with the $376 million AstraZeneca financing last month.
INOVIO president and CEO Dr. J Joseph Kim shared last month in the Pennsylvania Business Report: “This “This public-private partnership allows us to not only broaden the scope and application of our DNA medicines platform across the spectrum of needed COVID-19 treatment modalities but also to open the door for better patient administration and more cost-effective, scalable production of monoclonal antibody products for other infectious diseases and cancers,” Dr. J. Joseph Kim, INOVIO president and CEO, said. “We are excited about the potential this funding offers for both situations requiring immediate clinical response and benefit.”
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