In a June 21 research note, Maxim Group analyst Jason McCarthy reported the initiation, with the first patient dosed, of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s (INO:NASDAQ) Phase 1/2 clinical trial testing a triple combination of immunotherapeutics in patients with glioblastoma multiforme. The three-pronged treatment consists of Inovio's immunotherapy candidate, INO-5401, Regeneron's anti-PD-1 antibody, cemiplimab, and Inovio's interleukin-12 product, INO-9012. Fifty patients from 50 locations are expected to participate in the study.
For the trial, the checkpoint inhibitor PD-1 was added to INO-5401 because the latter has shown induction of tumor-targeting T cells. "Checkpoint inhibitors 'release the brakes' for T cells by blocking the receptors which prevent them from identifying cancer cells as foreign," wrote McCarthy, thereby enhancing the immune response at the tumor site.
IL-12 was added to the INO-5401 plus checkpoint regimen because it could further boost the immune response by working synergistically with the two other components. In general, IL-12 enhances and activates layers of immune responses.
Along with this triple combination study, others are being done on the company's INO-5401 and INO-9012 candidates separately. INO-5401 is being evaluated in bladder cancer. INO-9012 is being studied with VGX-3100, together known as MEDI0457, by MedImmune in human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancer.
As for what is coming in the near term regarding Inovio and its candidates, further updates from various ongoing infectious disease trials are anticipated throughout the rest of 2018. Additionally, expected later this year and in 2019 are immuno-oncology data reports from numerous studies.
Results from two VGX-3100 trials, "which we view as a potentially transformational event for the company," should be out in 2020, McCarthy indicated. They are the REVEAL-1 and REVEAL-2 studies in cervical dysplasia. Whereas REVEAL-1 is underway, REVEAL-2, currently enrolling, is slated to begin in H2/18.
Maxim Group has a Buy rating and an $8 per share target price on Inovio, whose stock is currently trading at around $4.02 per share.
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Disclosures from Maxim Group, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., June 21, 2018
I, Jason McCarthy, Ph.D., attest that the views expressed in this research report accurately reflect my personal views about the subject security and issuer. Furthermore, no part of my compensation was, is, or will be directly or indirectly related to the specific recommendation or views expressed in this research report.
I, Caroline Palomeque, attest that the views expressed in this research report accurately reflect my personal views about the subject security and issuer. Furthermore, no part of my compensation was, is, or will be directly or indirectly related to the specific recommendation or views expressed in this research report.
The research analyst(s) primarily responsible for the preparation of this research report have received compensation based upon various factors, including the firm's total revenues, a portion of which is generated by investment banking activities.
Maxim Group makes a market in Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Maxim Group managed/co-managed/acted as placement agent for an offering of the securities for Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the past 12 months.
Maxim Group received compensation for investment banking services from Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the past 12 months.
Maxim Group expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the next 3 months.