Inovio Releases ‘Promising’ MERS Data, Sets Stage For Covid-19 Vaccine

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) soared 5% in Tuesday’s after-market trading after the company announced positive interim data from a Phase 1/2a trial of DNA vaccine INO-4700 for MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The stock has now more than tripled year-to-date with investors excited about INO’s potential COVID-19 vaccine INO-4800, which uses the same strategy as INO-4700.

Vaccine recipients demonstrated strong antibody and T cell immune responses after 2 or 3 doses with 0.6 mg of INO-4700, the press release revealed.

What’s more, the vaccine was also well-tolerated with no vaccine-associated severe adverse events (SAEs).

Dr J Joseph Kim, Inovio’s CEO, said “This exciting data provides a great foundation for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine advancement as it demonstrates the power of INOVIO’s delivery system and the strength of our coronavirus experience.”

He is now hopeful that the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial for the Covid-19 vaccine INO-4800 will generate similar clinical immune responses and safety data as for INO-4700.

Overall, for those receiving 0.6 mg of INO-4700, 88% demonstrated seroconversion after a 2 dose regimen at 0 and 8 weeks, while for those receiving a 3 dose regimen given at 0, 4 and 12 weeks, 84% seroverted after 2 doses and 100% after 3 doses. This is the time period during which a specific antibody develops and becomes detectable in the blood.

INO is now planning to advance INO-4700 into a Phase 2 clinical trial in the Middle East with funding of $56 million by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The Street has a cautiously optimistic outlook on INO right now, with a Moderate Buy consensus. As share prices have rallied so quickly, the $13 average analyst price target now indicates 5% downside potential. (See Inovio stock analysis on TipRanks).

However, in a very bullish signal, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Stephen Willey more than doubled his INO price target following the data release. He now sees the stock surging to $19 (38% upside potential) and calls the MERS data ‘promising.’

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