Compared to peers in the vaccine space, Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ (INO) DNA-based platform is somewhat unique. It could potentially boast the same hallmarks as mRNA vaccines – such as rapid modification, easy scale-up, no anti-vector immunity – but might also provide an improved safety and tolerability profile.
And for that reason, Jefferies’ Roger Song thinks it the has the potential for “long-term value through a diverse pipeline.” This pipeline includes more than 15 different prophylactic/therapeutic vaccine/immunotherapy programs for infectious diseases.
Most of the focus so far, however, has been on the Covid-19 program for INO-4800.
In Phase 1 and Phase 2, INO-4800 elicited balanced nAb and T cell immunity and showed good safety/tolerability, with the latter acting as a “point of differentiation.”
While Song says he was “encouraged by the preliminary results,” with an ex-US Phase 3 efficacy data readout expected in 1H22, he believes the program faces several headwinds: “1) nAb levels are comparatively lower than its mRNA comps; 2) potential immune evading variants in locations where INO plans to run the Ph3 study; 3) an increasingly saturated market with multiple high efficacy CV-19 vaccines available.”
That said, the company is hoping to advance a pan-coronavirus vaccine into the clinic soon, which due to the growing concerns around variants like the Omicron could possibly “drive upside potential.”
Moving away from covid, Song thinks the cervical precancer vaccine program (VGX-3100) could eventually pique investors’ interest.
Also here Song was “encouraged” by VGX-3100’s Phase 2 and first Phase 3 data, but questions on the clinical utility remain after the absolute placebo-corrected treatment effect in the 1st Phase 3 of ~13% came in below the ~26% shown in Phase 2. Nevertheless, due to a dearth of alternative non-surgical options, Song sees “room for the drug.” The analyst says to look out for the 2nd Phase 3 readout in 2H22, and importantly the predictive biomarker development, to “further assess the potential clinical uptake.”
For now, however, the analyst assumed coverage of INO stock with a Hold rating and $6 price target. Nevertheless, there’s still upside potential of 15% from current levels. (To watch Song’s track record, click here)
There are 4 other analysts currently tracking Inovio’s progress and they are split on the stock’s prospects, with two Buys and Holds, each, providing the stock with a Moderate Buy consensus rating. (See INO price targets on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.