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Inovio Pharma (INO) Has Started The Year Off Right, More To Come?

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Shares of clinical-stage DNA vaccine maker Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INO) have gained more than 60 percent over the last 5 trading days as the deadly Chinese coronavirus outbreak continues to make headlines in the news.

As per the latest update, 4,515 people have been infected with coronavirus and the death toll in China due to this virus outbreak has crossed 100.

Inovio is developing DNA medicines to treat, cure and/or protect people from diseases associated with HPV, cancer, and infectious diseases.

Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) awarded Inovio a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Inovio's new coronavirus vaccine that will be developed matching the outbreak strain is known by the name INO-4800.

A phase I study of INO-4700 (GLS-5300) against the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, also caused by a coronavirus, was successfully completed in September 2018. Inovio is currently preparing to initiate a phase II vaccine trial for INO-4700 in the Middle East where most MERS viral outbreaks have occurred. This vaccine candidate is also fully funded by CEPI.

The other DNA-based vaccine candidates in the pipeline are:

-- VGX-3100, being tested to treat cervical dysplasia caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), under phase III trials, dubbed REVEAL 1 and REVEAL 2. The top-line efficacy data from the REVEAL 1 trial are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

-- INO-3107 for the treatment of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, an orphan disease indication, which is expected to advance into phase II study in the first half of this year. Respiratory papillomatosis, or RRP, is caused by HPV 6 and 11 infections, which form non-cancerous tumors in the airways of patients who suffer from this disease. This disease is incurable and can only be treated by frequent surgeries to remove the tumors, which temporarily restores the airway before renewed tumor growth.

-- INO-5401, which is under a phase II trial in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme. Inovio is slated to report 12- and 18-month overall survival data from this study this year.

-- INO-5151, under a phase I trial in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, which is being tested in combination with Celldex's CDX-301 and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo.

-- INO-4500, a candidate vaccine to prevent infection from the Lassa virus, under phase I testing in the U.S. This trial is also fully funded through a global partnership with CEPI. Data from this phase I study is expected this year. Inovio is also planning to advance INO-4500 to a phase Ib trial in Africa in 2020.

-- INO-A002 for preventing or treating Zika virus infection is under a phase I dose-escalation trial. Results from this study are expected this year. This study has funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As of September 30, 2019, Inovio had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $93.8 million.

INO has traded in a range of $1.92 to $5.95 in the last 1 year. The stock closed Monday's trading at $5.32, up 25.47%. In after-hours, the stock gained another 11.28% to $5.92.

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