Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) presented positive clinical data on Inovio’s DNA-based vaccines against MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) (GLS-5300) and Zika (GLS-5700) at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI)’s 1st Scientific Meeting on “Vaccines Against Emerging Infections – A Global Insurance” in Paris, France.
Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio’s CEO, said: “Advancing DNA vaccine technology for broadly applicable, rapid response against infectious diseases of epidemic potential is one of Inovio’s priorities. We quickly designed and manufactured vaccines for two recent emerging infectious pathogens, MERS CoV and Zika, and these products join our Ebola program in generating significant immune responses with a favorable safety profile in phase I studies. We are pleased to see CEPI moving forward on its vision for proactive and accelerated vaccine development for epidemic threats and to contribute to their first scientific meeting.”
Officially launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, 2017, CEPI received an initial $460 million from the governments of Germany, Japan and Norway, plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, as part of a drive to bring together a total of $1 billion to fund and support its goal of stimulating, financing and coordinating the advancement of safe, effective and affordable vaccines.
MERS Vaccine Results
Dr. Weiner noted that in a phase I MERS study, after a three dose vaccine regimen with GLS-5300, high levels of binding antibodies were measured (ELISA) in 92% (57 of 62) of evaluated subjects. Even two doses or a single dose of vaccine generated a robust antibody response in 84% (52 of 62) or 44% (27 of 62) of evaluated subjects, respectively.
Significant antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses were also observed. Importantly, all but one evaluated vaccinated subject or 98% (61 of 62) generated an antibody and/or T cell response against the MERS vaccine. Generation of MERS antigen-specific antibody and T cell responses is believed to be important for generating immediate and long-lasting protection against the disease. The vaccine was well tolerated and no significant safety concerns were noted to date.
These interim data from the first set of evaluated subjects were from a fully enrolled phase I study of 75 healthy volunteers. Inovio and GeneOne Life Science Inc. (KSE: 011000) are co-developing Inovio’s GLS-5300 in partnership with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland, where the trial was conducted. This trial represents the first and still only MERS vaccine to be tested in humans for this disease that has no approved vaccines or treatments.
In preclinical studies of GLS-5300 (data published in the peer reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine, 2015), 100% of vaccinated Rhesus macaques were protected from symptoms of MERS when exposed to the live MERS virus. The animals also generated strong antibody and T-cell responses.
Since the virus was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, the World Health Organization has reported almost 2,000 MERS infections and nearly 700 deaths worldwide. Twenty seven countries have reported cases, including Korea where an outbreak in the summer of 2015 resulted in 186 cases and 38 deaths. While the SARS epidemic in 2003 killed 10% of those infected, SARS-related MERS has killed about 36% of people who contracted this communicable virus.
Zika Vaccine results
Dr. Weiner also highlighted that in a phase I Zika study, after a three dose vaccine regimen with GLS-5700, high levels of binding antibodies were measured (ELISA) in 100% (39 of 39) of evaluated subjects. Moreover, two doses or a single dose of vaccine generated a robust antibody response in 82% (32 of 39) or 40% (16 of 40) of evaluated subjects, respectively.
T cell immune responses are currently being evaluated. The vaccine was well tolerated and no significant safety concerns were noted. These preliminary data are from a fully enrolled phase I study of 40 healthy volunteers. Inovio and GeneOne are co-developing GLS-5700. This trial represents the first Zika vaccine to be tested in humans for this disease that has no approved vaccines or treatments and also the first human clinical data reported with a Zika vaccine documenting the induction of immune responses following vaccination.
Preclinical data published in the peer-reviewed journal npg Vaccines (2016) showed that GLS-5700 generated single-dose protection in 100% of animals against neurologic or testicular effects of the Zika virus.
Dr. Scott White, Inovio’s Vice President of Infectious Disease Clinical Development, will also present this Zika data on Friday, February 24th at the “First International Conference on Zika Virus,” a worldwide forum sponsored by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Washington, D.C.
Shares of Inovio are currently trading at $7.03, up $0.43 or 6.52%. INO has a 1-year high of $11.69 and a 1-year low of $5.85. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $6.70 and its 200-day moving average is $7.78.
On the ratings front, INO stock has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on December 22, H.C. Wainwright analyst Ram Selvaraju reiterated a Buy rating on INO. Separately, on December 21, Stifel Nicolaus’ Thomas Shrader reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $11.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Ram Selvaraju and Thomas Shrader have a yearly average loss of -2.7% and a return of 8.2% respectively. Selvaraju has a success rate of 38% and is ranked #4169 out of 4494 analysts, while Shrader has a success rate of 39% and is ranked #1114.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a bio-pharmaceutical company, which develops active DNA immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases. Its portfolio of immune therapies includes SynCon immunotherapies and electroporation delivery systems.