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Inovio Pharmaceuticals

An Interview with Dr. Joseph Kim


Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Joseph Kim, CEO, Inovio Pharma.©Inovio, 2011.

According to Dr. Joseph Kim, CEO of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, the success of Inovio lies in their DNA vaccine development platform combined with the "right delivery systems". He believes that the arena of cancer vaccine research got a "recharge" in April 2010, with the approval of the cancer vaccine PROVenge, developed by Dendreon Corporation. The approval "energized this whole field", says Dr. Kim.

While there had been no new approvals for humans at the time of Dr. Kim's March 2011 interview, there were four veterinary DNA vaccines on the market. One of these, an Inovio product, is a swine vaccine approved for use in Australia.

As of early 2011, Inovio had several products in their pipeline, at various stages of clinical trial. Most notable were vaccines for cervical cancer and leukemia, in Phase III trials, treatments for breast, lung and prostate cancer, HIV and avian flu, in Phase II trials, and a HepC vaccine for which Phase II trials had been completed.

When asked what makes Inovio special, Dr. Kim replied that they have better DNA vaccine constructs, a better delivery system and cross-validation of two products for humans, in two different studies. By the mid-90's, most big pharma companies were heavily into DNA vaccines wherein naked DNA vectors, when tranferred into cells, could undergo translation and trigger an immune response. Every disease known to mice could be cured, and everyone was excited, but their discoveries all failed. Even though the vaccines were easily created, easy to design and stable at room temperature, delivery was the problem. According to Dr. Kim, Inovio has solved that delivery problem and have some of the "best-in-class" ability to generate the highest T-cell immune responses to disease.

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