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By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Lassa Fever Candidate Vaccine 

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced Tuesday announced it has dosed subjects in a Phase 1, first-in-human clinical trial to evaluate INO-4500, its DNA candidate vaccine to prevent infection from the Lassa virus.

C. S. Goldsmith, P. Rollin, M. Bowen
This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted numbers of Lassa virus virions adjacent to some cell debris.

Inovio plans to enroll approximately 60 volunteers in this placebo controlled, blinded, dose escalation study evaluating INO-4500 for safety, tolerability and immune responses.

This trial represents the first Lassa candidate vaccine to enter the clinic.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s President and CEO, said, “Inovio’s class-leading synthetic nucleic vaccines delivered intradermally with its proprietary CELLECTRA® efficacy enhancing systems are well suited to rapidly produce countermeasures against emerging viral threats potentially protecting large populations from a pandemic. Inovio has rapidly advanced several global health candidate vaccines, including those against HIV, Ebola, MERS, and Zika, and has reported above 90% immune response rates from multiple clinical studies. We join our partner CEPI in the shared quest to bring new vaccines to medicine and save lives.”

In a previously published paper, Inovio reported that its DNA candidate vaccine against Lassa fever provided 100% protection in non-human primates challenged with a lethal dose of the virus in a pre-clinical study funded by a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa and can cause recurrent large outbreaks with high case fatality rates in the region. There is no licensed vaccine or approved treatment for Lassa fever.

Nigeria Lassa fever update

During the week ending May 12, Nigerian health officials reported four new confirmed cases from three states – Edo (2), Ebonyi(1) and Taraba(1) states.

No new deaths were reported.

Since the beginning of the year, 569 confirmed positive Lassa cases and 128 deaths have been recorded, with a case fatality of 22.5 percent.

While 21 Nigerian state have recorded at least one confirmed case, 92 percent of all confirmed cases are from Edo(36%), Ondo(29%), Ebonyi(8%), Bauchi(7%), Taraba(7%) and Plateau(6%) states.

A total of eighteen health care workers have been infected since the onset of the outbreak in eight States – Edo (7), Ondo (3), Ebonyi (2), Enugu (1), Rivers (1), Bauchi (1) Benue (1), Plateau (1) and Kebbi(1) with two deaths in Enugu and Edo States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus, a member of the virus family Arenaviridae, is a single-stranded RNA virus, and is zoonotic, or animal-borne that can be transmitted to humans. The illness, which occurs in West Africa, was discovered in 1969 when two missionary nurses died in Nigeria, West Africa.

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In areas of Africa where the disease is endemic (that is, constantly present), Lassa fever is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease. Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the case-fatality rate can reach 50%.

There are a number of ways in which the virus may be transmitted, or spread, to humans. The Mastomys rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings. Therefore, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with these materials, through touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials, or through cuts or sores. Because Mastomys rodents often live in and around homes and scavenge on human food remains or poorly stored food, transmission of this sort is common. Contact with the virus also may occur when a person inhales tiny particles in the air contaminated with rodent excretions. This is called aerosol or airborne transmission. Finally, because Mastomys rodents are sometimes consumed as a food source, infection may occur via direct contact when they are caught and prepared for food.

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