Inovio Biomedical Corp. is focused on the design, development and delivery of a new generation of vaccines, called DNA vaccines, to prevent and treat cancers and infectious diseases. The company’s SynCon technology enables the design of universal vaccines capable of protecting against multiple strains of pathogens such as influenza.

The company announced that it and its team of brilliant researchers and collaborators from Drexel University, Cheyney University and the University of Pennsylvania have received a $2.8 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to develop a DNA vaccine to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV). The grant will fund pre-clinical studies to test the safety and effect on the immune system of Inovio’s novel vaccines.

Inovio’s vaccines were designed to treat persons who are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus and have not responded to currently available therapies. Persons with chronic HCV infection face an increased risk of developing hepatocellular cancer, a difficult-to-treat cancer with a poor prognosis. HCV is a major global health problem with over 170 million people infected worldwide.

The funds for the grant came from Pennsylvania’s share of the nationwide settlement with the tobacco companies. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Everette James, said that this “confirms Pennsylvania’s commitment to use tobacco settlement dollars to improve the health of its citizens.” These competitive grants focus on specific research priorities established by the Health Research Advisory Committee. These grants are awarded as part of the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURE) which supports clinical, health services and biomedical research.