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Improved Foot-and-Mouth Vaccine Closer

Improved Foot-and-Mouth Vaccine Closer
Biotech company tests first round on pigs, says cattle and other farm animals next.

U.S. biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals said it has successfully completed a first round of testing a safer, more effective foot-and-mouth disease vaccine.

During a world vaccine summit Wednesday the company said its vaccine, carried by its proprietary delivery technology, has provided good protection against four of the most common foot-and-mouth disease serotypes in pigs. The company also indicated it is moving forward quickly with testing in other farm animals, including cattle.

"In a study conducted in pigs, a single vaccination with an Inovio FMD vaccine comprising four of the most common FMD serotypes generated high titer, antigen-specific antibody responses for each serotype in the vaccinated animals," said  company spokesman. "The responses were boosted even higher with a second immunization. High levels of T-cell responses were also measured in the vaccinated animals. All vaccines were administered intramuscularly with Inovio's CELLECTRA electroporation delivery system."

Inovio said its FMD vaccine has several advantages over existing vaccines:

* It cannot cause disease, which currently is possible using killed viral FMD vaccines. This limits current vaccination to herds that may be imminently exposed to FMD. Inovio's vaccine would permit truly preventive vaccination.

* The vaccine is designed to generate broader, cross-protective immune responses across different FMD serotypes. Other existing vaccines that must be matched to the FMD serotype.

* Current FMD vaccines display the same multiple proteins as the actual virus. Therefore healthy vaccinated animals cannot be distinguished from infected animals, frequently leading to the slaughter of uninfected herds. Inovio's SynCon vaccine is encoded for a single antigen (VP1 protein) common across FMD serotypes so a blood test can distinguish non-infected vaccinated animals from naturally infected animals.

* Better thermal stability of Inovio's vaccine will help where cold storage is unavailable, such as in developing countries.

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