Pennsylvania-based Inovio Pharma announced yesterday it designed a vaccine for the novel coronavirus using its proprietary DNA-antigen technology. Certainly, this is not Inovio’s first coronavirus vaccine but it places the small company in the spotlight for solutions to a potential pandemic.

Variant forms of coronaviruses have been around for at least 10,000 years.   The term refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virons).   However, the 2019 outbreak in Wuhan, China is designated COVID-19 has killed over one thousand three hundred (1,300) individuals. 

Map of China showing coronavirus outbreak and symptoms on human body.
The COVID-19 virus has taken over 1,300 lives as of February 17, 2020.

Inovio’s Patent Holdings

Inovio holds twenty-five (25) granted United States patents focused on vaccines and related technologies.   Moreover, the vaccines target everything from smallpox to hepatitis C.   Inovio claimed that once the Chinese government disclosed the COVID-19 DNA sequence, Inovio only needed two hours to design the vaccine and send it to manufacture using its IMMUNO-INGENUITY® branded DNA sequencing technology.    Accordingly, Inovio expects to begin human-testing in the next few months.  Inovio has patented it’s vaccines in the past and there is little doubt it has filed pending patent applications on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Significantly, a United States Department of Defense grant jump-started Inovio with funding. The University of Pennsylvania received the grant for a smallpox vaccine over a decade ago.   In addition, the University of Pennsylvania continues to be a stakeholder in Inovio’s patent portfolio including its most recent February 4, 2020, U.S. Patent 10,548,971 for a MERS-CoV coronavirus vaccine.

Anton Hopen

U.S. Patent Attorney with smithhopen.com.