The US army has underlined its commitment to exploring new technologies such as biomedicines to protect frontline troops from bio-warfare and bio-terror attacks by investing in DNA vaccine research.

The Department of Defence has committed to furthering exploration in this field by awarding a contract for $933,000 to Inovio Biomedical Corporation to continue research and development of DNA-based vaccines delivered via its proprietary electroporation system.

Inovio Biomedical is a developer of human applications of electroporation using brief, controlled electrical pulses to increase cellular uptake of a useful biopharmaceuticals.

Initial human data has shown that the electroporation-based DNA delivery technology developed by Inovio can significantly increase gene expression and immune responses from DNA vaccines.

The contract, titled ‘design and engineering of the Elgen gene delivery system for screening and validation of vaccine candidates of military relevance’, is focused on identifying DNA vaccine candidates with the potential to provide rapid, robust immunity to protect against biological attacks.

President and CEO of Inovio, Dr Avtar Dhillon said that the company is enthusiastic about the US military investment in this ground breaking research.

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“We have a productive working relationship with the US Army and are enthusiastic that they are supporting the use of electroporation for biodefence vaccine development,” Dhillon said.

Dhillon also added that while the vaccines would have an obvious use in the theatre of war, they are also relevant in many other medical applications.

“We believe that knowledge developed from this research is also relevant to the research and development of commercially attractive therapeutic vaccines for targets such as cancer and chronic infectious diseases,” Dhillon said.

By Daniel Garrun.