SAN DIEGO — In a race against the clock, a San Diego lab is scrambling to get a COVID-19 vaccine out and on the market. As the days go by, Inovio Pharmaceuticals is getting closer to releasing the desperately needed vaccine against the deadly virus.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which is located in Sorrento Valley, has also created a vaccine for the Zika virus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the vaccine for Ebola.
Dr. Trevor Smith, who is the director of research and development at Inovio, said, "It's something we are trained to do, and the infrastructure is here and the expertise is in house."
When Chinese scientists released the genetic sequence on Jan. 9, Inovio researchers got to work immediately and within 3 hours they had a vaccine for coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is now being referred to.
"We have an algorithm which we designed, and we put the DNA sequence into our algorithm and came up with the vaccine in that short amount of time," said Dr. Smith.
Tens of thousands in China have been quarantined and continue to suffer from the virus. That’s why scientists at Inovio Pharmaceuticals say they feel the sense of urgency to get the vaccine out.
The vaccine has been tested on mice and guinea pigs. It will next be tried on a group of human patients.
Scientists hope the vaccine will work like a piece of biological software. In other words, the vaccine will give the human body instructions to create the proper attack in the form of T-cells and antibodies against COVID-19.
If all goes as planned, clinical trials in humans could begin by early this summer, but they will still need FDA approval.
Currently, an Inovio Pharmaceuticals lead researcher is in Sweden meeting with the World Health Organization to come up with the best plan of attack against COVID-19.