Inovio joins Ebola fight while WHO says a vaccine could be ready by year's end

Scanning electron micrograph of ebolavirus in an African green monkey kidney cell--Courtesy of NIAID

Another vaccine hopeful is joining the fight against Ebola. Inovio Pharmaceuticals ($INO) said this week that it will move its Ebola vaccine candidate into clinical trials in the first half of 2015.

With the ongoing outbreak in West Africa, lots of investigational therapies and vaccines are getting face time as the gravity of the situation worsens. The deadly virus has sickened 6,263 people and killed 2,917 of those, according to a Sept. 24 update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Inovio is collaborating with GeneOne to codevelop Inovio's DNA-based Ebola vaccine in a Phase I clinical trial. The companies are currently conducting pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) activities. If the trial is successful, the companies said they will look to third-party support and resources to further develop and commercialize the vaccine.

Inovio is doing high-stakes experimental work in the area of DNA vaccines and has caught plenty of flak from critics. Like other speculative Ebola vaccines and therapies, which have largely been untested in humans, only time will tell as to which treatments will come out triumphant.

Meanwhile, the WHO said a vaccine might be available in large enough quantities by the end of the year to help control West Africa's Ebola outbreak, according to the Associated Press.

That vaccine could be GlaxoSmitheKline's ($GSK) jab, which has been fast-tracked into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. So far, 10 out of a total of 20 volunteers have been vaccinated with no ill effects, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said last week.

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), along with partner Bavarian Nordic, and NewLink Genetics ($NLNK) have also voiced plans to begin clinical trials of experimental Ebola vaccines early next year. 

- read Inovio's press release