Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) announced its DNA vaccine targeting the virulent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) induced 100% protection from a live virus challenge in a preclinical study. This medical advancement is notable because there is no vaccine or effective treatment for the MERS virus, which is clearly able to transmit from human to human. Since 2012, MERS has infected 1,400 people and killed over 500. Recently, the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia of this emergent global health concern infected 186 people with 36 fatalities in South Korea.

In preclinical studies, Inovio and its collaborators evaluated its synthetic DNA-based MERS vaccine in mice, camels and monkeys, or non-human primates. In all three species, the vaccine induced robust immune responses capable of preventing the virus from infecting cells. The data from camels is an important finding because camels represent not only a host reservoir of the disease but act as a mode of transmission to humans. In monkeys, all vaccinated animals in the study were protected from symptoms of MERS disease when challenged with a live MERS virus. Inovio has reported on the preventive power of its synthetic DNA-based vaccines in a variety of infectious diseasesincluding HIV, influenza, hepatitis B, Ebola and dengue.

Results from Inovio’s MERS vaccine development efforts appear in the peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine in an article entitled, “A synthetic consensus anti-spike protein DNA vaccine induces protective immunity against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in non-human primates.” Inovio’s collaborators for this study include researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Public Health Agency of Canada, NIH, University of Washington, and University of South Florida.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO, Inovio, said: “Once again, our data demonstrates we can rapidly turn our SynCon® DNA-based immunotherapy platform to create innovative products with the potential to prevent and treat multiple infectious diseases and cancers. In this preclinical study, our synthetic vaccine shows its capability to combat a disease for which there is no vaccine. We look forward to clinically testing this product as an effective shield against the deadly MERS virus.”

Under a previously announced collaboration agreement with GeneOne Life Science Inc. (KSE:011000), Inovio’s MERS vaccine product will advance into a clinical trial in healthy volunteers in the fourth quarter of this year. GeneOne will fund and conduct a phase I trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the vaccine.(Original Source)

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals opened today at $7.4 and are currently trading down at $7.32. INO has a 1-year high of $13.04 and a 1-year low of $6.33. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $7.48 and its 200-day moving average is $8.18.

On the ratings front, Inovio has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 10, Brean Murray Carret analyst Jonathan Aschoff reiterated a Buy rating on INO, with a price target of $20, which represents a potential upside of 170.3% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on July 29, Maxim Group’s Jason McCarthy reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $20.

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Jonathan Aschoff and Jason McCarthy have a total average return of 7.0% and -4.8% respectively. Aschoff has a success rate of 46.9% and is ranked #487 out of 3740 analysts, while McCarthy has a success rate of 38.1% and is ranked #3181.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. The Company develops active DNA immunotherapies and vaccines in combination with proprietary electroporation delivery devices to prevent and treat cancers and infectious diseases.