Local lab makes progress on coronavirus vaccine

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SAN DIEGO — Researchers at a lab in Sorrento Valley are making swift progress on a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.

“We’re working day and night to make this happen,” said Dr. Kate Broderick, senior vice president of research and development at Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

The coronavirus has killed more than three dozen people in China.

There are now at least two confirmed cases in the U.S., with health officials monitoring more than 60 other potential cases.

The Chinese government identified the flu-like virus at the end of December. Earlier this month, Chinese officials released the DNA sequence.

Broderick says after getting that sequence Inovio had constructed a vaccine in a matter of hours. “It actually took two hours. We downloaded the sequence from the Chinese government. We put it into our algorithm that generates the vaccines and in two hours we had the vaccine already designed and it went straight to manufacture,” Broderick said.

The vaccine is now in pre-clinical testing. The goal is to have it ready for human testing this summer.

To help with development, Inovio just received a $9 million grant from Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an organization that aims to stop epidemics.

“This funding has really allowed us to concentrate our efforts on getting this vaccine out there,” Broderick said.

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