Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced a grant of up to $9 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that to date has killed more than a hundred people in China and infected hundreds more.
The initial funding from CEPI will support preclinical and Phase 1 clinical development of INO-4800, the company's new coronavirus vaccine candidate. CEPI previously awarded Inovio grants of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which is also caused by a coronavirus.
Launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, CEPI is a public-private partnership that has received multiyear funding from Norway, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia, as well as from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. To date, the partnership has committed more than $310 million for the development of twelve vaccine candidates (five targeting Lassa virus, four targeting MERS-CoV, and three targeting Nipah virus) as well as two rapid response vaccine platforms.
"Given the rapid global spread of the 2019-nCoV virus, the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease," said CEPI chief executive Richard Hatchett. "Our intention...is to leverage our work with Inovio on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platform to speed up vaccine development."
(Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, #4814)