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DNA-Based Compound Shuts Down Seasonal Flu in Preclinical Study

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A U.S. biotech developing vaccines to fight a number of infectious diseases has generated promising preclinical results with a platform therapy targeting influenza, and expects to enter the clinic with a similar platform compound targeting Ebola in 2018.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INO:NASDAQ) announced its "DNA-based monoclonal antibody [dMAb] product for flu produced broadly cross-reactive antibodies that provided complete protection from a lethal challenge with multiple viruses from both influenza A and B types in a preclinical study," in a July 6 press release.

The results of the preclinical study were published in the journal npj Vaccines.

Inovio's dMAb products "provide cross-strain protection and may offer prevention against unexpected changes of seasonal influenza strains," H. C. Wainwright analyst Raghuram (Ram) Selvaraju stated in a July 7 research report. "We note that these data corroborate previous positive findings on dMAb products designed for HIV, dengue, and Chikungunya, and further validate the dMAb platform that aims to deliver DNA sequences that encode and rapidly generate therapeutic monoclonal antibodies directly in the recipients."

"Management expects to advance the first dMab product—the therapeutic Ebola product—into a human study in 2018," Selvaraju wrote. Inovio's Ebola therapy is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The dMAb products work in tandem with the company's DNA vaccines, "which attempt to incite the production of antibodies through the immune system," according to the company press release. "In the case of influenza and other infectious disease, a dMAb product may provide immediate and short term protection while a DNA vaccine may provide long term immune memory and protection. Both products can be encoded to provide cross-strain protection."

"These data suggest that passive immunization that results in broadly neutralizing anti-influenza monoclonal antibodies could complement or bypass traditional immunization against influenza, which typically seeks universal protection through recombinant antigens," Selvaraju stated, further noting that "dMab products are inexpensive to produce, since DNA replication does not require mammalian cell culture." According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza vaccines are most commonly made "using an egg-based manufacturing process that has been used for more than 70 years."

"With respect to influenza, our dMAb product offers a new game-changing model to address seasonal and pandemic influenza with a single dose," Inovio's CEO, Dr. Joseph Kim, stated in the release.

H. C. Wainwright rates Inovio a Buy with a $13 price target. Inovio stock currently trades at ~$7.80 per share.

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1) Tracy Salcedo compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor. She or members of her household own securities of the following companies mentioned in this article: None. She or members of her household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None.
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