With Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) gaining speed and momentum in the race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, recent preclinical data for its INO-4800 reinforces positive momentum. Investors—watch this space and this company, carefully rewarding it thus far by an increase of 332% for the year.
The Vaccine Candidate
The company’s vaccine, INO-4800—a major antigen spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—the pathogen behind COVID-19. As described in the excellent online site Precision Vaccinations, INO-4800, a DNA-based vaccine candidate matched to SARS-2-CoV, pairs with the company’s CELLECTRA hand-held smart device. As described in the specialized online site, the platform delivers optimized DNA into cells where they are then translated into proteins that activate an individual’s immune system which in turn, generates a powerful targeted T cell and antibody response.
The Preclinical Data Looks Good Thus Far
As just reported by TrialSite News, the company published in journal Nature Communications and titled Immunogenicity of a DNA Vaccine Candidate for COVID-19 that its INO-4800 demonstrates promising potential—it evidences robust neutralizing antibody and T cell immune responses against COVID-19 in animals such as mice. The study was authored by scientists and collaborators from The Wistar Institute, the University of Texas, Public Health England, Fudan University and Advaccine.
The company isn’t banking on just the existing animal studies. Yahoo Finance reports that the company’s scientists will design a preclinical study focusing on larger animals, including monkeys in “challenge studies.” A well-known biotech analyst, Ram Selvaraju with H.C. Wainwright, commented that “In our view, these animal data bode well for the upcoming data from multiple animal challenge studies and data readout from the ongoing Phase I study in June.”
Clinical Trial Status
Presently, the company is testing INO-4800 in Phase I clinical trials for testing purposes. The company communicated that they will discuss with the FDA the option to initiate a larger Phase II/III clinical trial, focusing on up to 2,000 frontline healthcare professionals, they hope, by July or August, reports Yahoo Finance.
The company ventured to the land of manufacturing gurus—Germany—recently to ink a deal with Richter-Helm Biologics for a large-scale production of INO-4800, should it proceed down the clinical trials pathway—to augment vaccine manufacturing capability. The company even touts on its website, “German Reliability and Thoroughness” so the Hamburg-based operation is confident of what it can do for the small U.S.-based biotech.
Investor Analysts: Regardless of Who—Be Careful
A 5-star analyst, H.C. Wainwright’s Mr. Selvaraju, pegs Inovio as a “buy” associated with a $17 price target as reported in Yahoo Finance, representing, according to this analyst, upside of 22%. They currently trade at $14.08 representing a large market capitalization of over $2.2 billion as of this writing. Although Mr. Selvaraju has a stellar track record, take all of this with a grain of salt. According to the Wall Street Journal, its media price should be at $17. 8 analysts have commented of late: 5 recommending a Buy and 3 a more cautious Hold.
One could also look at this endeavor as one representing extreme risk and this class of stock is definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart—be careful—think carefully before you put your retirement savings in this.