Stock Update (NASDAQ:INO): Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Academic Collaborators Receive $16 Million HIV Grant From National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:INO)  announced that the company and its academic collaborators, including the University of Pennsylvania(UPenn), were awarded a new five-year $16 million Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development Program grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

This five-year program grant was awarded based on the clinical successes of Inovio’s PENNVAX® HIV vaccine program. The grant will fund research to expand PENNVAX coverage of HIV strains as well as to further enhance antibody responses generated by the vaccine.

New PENNVAX envelope constructs will be designed and tested with Inovio’s DNA-based immune activator encoding novel cytokine genes and will be studied in a prime-boost strategy with recombinant HIV envelope proteins. The collaborators will assess different combinations in preclinical models with the goal of generating high levels of neutralizing antibodies mirroring the robust CD8+ T cell responses generated by Inovio’s PENNVAX-B DNA vaccine in previously published clinical studies. The overall goal of this project is to further build upon this important HIV vaccine approach as well to gain fundamental insight into new technologies to improve vaccination outcomes.

As part of this grant consortium, Inovio will couple its expertise in constructing, developing and manufacturing HIV vaccines with researchers from four world-leading academic institutions (University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, Duke University and the University of Massachusetts) along with VGXi, a contract DNA plasmid manufacturer, and Waisman Biomanufacturing, a contract protein manufacturer.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO, said, “On behalf of our team of preeminent academic collaborators, we are honored to receive this significant new grant from the NIAID. Having completed the development of PENNVAX-GP under a prior $25 million NIAID grant, we are on track to separately initiate a phase I study of this HIV vaccine. This additional NIAID funding allows us to immediately continue and expand the development of PENNVAX vaccines. We have one of the most dynamic HIV programs in the world and we look forward to pursuing any and all scientific exploration to achieve an answer to this challenging disease using our novel DNA immunotherapy approach.”

The NIAID previously awarded Inovio a $25 million grant to develop PENNVAX-GP. UPenn was a collaborating partner on that award as well for the pre-clinical development activities. A phase I study of PENNVAX-GP is expected to start in the first half of 2015. (Original Source)

Shares of Inovio closed last Friday at $7.04 . 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 it’s 200-day moving average is $9.42.

On the ratings front, Inovio has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on March 12, H.C. Wainwright analyst Yi Chen initiated coverage with a Buy rating on INO and a price target of $17, which represents a potential upside of 141.5% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on January 6, Maxim Group’s Jason Kolbert maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $20.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Yi Chen and Jason Kolbert has a total average return of 0.9% and 11.3% respectively. Chen has a success rate of 44.4% and is ranked 2366 out of 3516 while Kolbert has a success rate of 48.7% and is ranked 236

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biomedical company, engaged in the development of next-generation vaccines to prevent or treat cancers and chronic infectious diseases.

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