Inovio Launches Zika Vaccine Trial in Puerto Rico

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) announced Monday it’s launching a ground-breaking clinical trial of a Zika vaccine in Puerto Rico.

The Pennsylvania drug company will be testing its DNA-based vaccine on 160 adult volunteers in the area hardest hit by the mosquito-borne illness. Inovio has already completed enrollment for the North American trial that consists of 40 subjects throughout Miami, Philadelphia and Quebec City, Canada.

“The Puerto Rican trial is very interesting in that now we have half the people of 160 patients receiving the vaccine, the placebo, and…we can look at the hint of efficacy of the vaccine,” said Inovio CEO Dr. Joseph Kim during an interview with the FOX Business Network’s Countdown to the Closing Bell.

The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa back in 1947 and was mostly unknown until it spread to parts of the Caribbean and the southern part of the United States.

According to Dr. Kim, the Zika virus is a very insidious virus and its dangers go beyond the threat it poses on pregnant women and their unborn child as it’s taken an uptick

“The birth defects, microcephalus and shrinking heads, for the new born is devastating, but also, it can also cause a Guillain-Barré syndrome which is a temporary paralysis where you can collapse and die because your lungs won’t function. Those cases have also taken an uptick on healthier adults as well,” Dr. Kim said.

Dr. Kim said Inovio expects regulators to put the vaccine in a fast-track path to get the vaccine to market as soon as possible.

“There’s an all-hands effort to get a vaccine approved for public use, along with these diagnostic which will go hand-in-hand to help,” Dr. Kim explained.

When asked if the vaccine will be expensive, the Inovio CEO said Philadelphia based company is very committed in bringing a vaccine that’s affordable to everyone.