Coronavirus vaccine play Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: INO) announced the completion of enrollment in the Phase 1 trial of its COVID-19 DNA vaccine INO-4800 and positive Phase 1/2a data for its MERS coronavirus vaccine INO-4700 on Tuesday.

The Inovio Analysts

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Charles Duncan reiterated an Overweight rating on Inovio and increased the price target from $13 to $17.

H.C. Wainwright analyst Raghuram Selvaraju reiterated a Buy rating and hiked the price target from $13 to $17.

2020 Could Prove to Be Transformational For Inovio 

Positive immunogenicity data from the INO-4700 MERS-CoV Phase 1/2a vaccine trial, revealed through the abstract released for oral presentation at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Conference due for May 12-15, has increased the conviction for INO-4800, Cantor analyst Duncan said in a note.

Inovio said that with intradermal administration and using Inovio's CELLECTRA delivery device, humoral and cell-mediated responses were seen across the majority of subjects receiving the 0.6mg dose, the analyst said. 

"We find these data sets encouraging and believe they provide additional PoC for intradermal delivery and guide toward a dosing regimen and vaccine construct, consistent with that being utilized in the P1 study of INO-4800."  

Duncan said he expects initial immunogenicity/safety data for the INO-4800 COVID-19 vaccine candidate by the end of June. The company is likely to quickly transition to a Phase 2 efficacy study at that time, he said. 

Cantor sees 2020 as a transformational year for Inovio, with multiple clinical readouts — including the Phase 3 study of lead candidate VGX-3100 in the fourth quarter — and potentially increased visibility on a COVID-19 vaccine and clinical development progress and external funding.

Acute Need, New MERS Vaccine Data Increase Analyst's Optimism

Along with the Phase 1 COVID-19 DNA vaccine study in which 40 healthy volunteers are enrolled, Inovio is is conducting several challenge studies in multiple animal models, said H.C. Wainwright analyst Selvaraju. 

Previous preclinical data showed that the vaccine candidate produced immune responses across multiple preclinical models, the analyst said. 

Inovio expects to commence a Phase 2/3 trial in the U.S. in the summer. 

Given the high transmissibility and mortality of COVID-19 and the likelihood it could persist in the coming quarters, Selvaraju said INO-4800 could be used for vaccination across the globe if successfully developed through the Phase 2/3 study.

H.C. Wainwright attributed the upward price target adjustment to the increased likelihood that COVID-19 vaccines would be needed by people around the world in order to return to normal daily life and the new positive data from the company's DNA vaccine for MERS coronavirus.

INO Price Action

At last check, Inovio shares were slipping 1.85% to $13.50. 

Related Link: The Week Ahead In Biotech (April 26-May 2): Cancer Conference, Earnings News Flow In The Spotlight

Latest Ratings for INO

Date Firm Action From To
Apr 2020 Stifel Maintains Buy
Apr 2020 HC Wainwright & Co. Reiterates Buy
Apr 2020 Cantor Fitzgerald Maintains Overweight

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