In a Nov. 27, 2018, research note, H.C. Wainwright & Co. analyst Ram Selvaraju reported that Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s (INO:NASDAQ) DNA-encoded monoclonal antibody (dMAB) technology will be the first to be tested clinically, which should begin in early 2019. The completely outside-funded study will evaluate the product in infectious disease.
The analyst reviewed and weighed in on the preclinical results of Inovio's dMAB technology from testing in cardiovascular disease, Ebola and Lyme disease, as reported in three medical journals this November.
Regarding cardiovascular disease and the use of Inovio's dMAb that targets PCSK9 to prevent it, Selvaraju indicated that the "product may provide a novel, less frequent and cost effective approach to reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol."
In the study, this particular dMAb was assessed in wild-type mice as an alternative to lipid-lowering therapeutics. Results, published in Molecular Therapy, revealed that one dosing of daPCSK9 generated expression in vivo for more than 42 days, with a significant associated decrease of 28.6% in nonhigh-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a 10.3% drop in total cholesterol by day seven. Repeat administrations resulted in further expression.
With respect to use of Inovio's dMABs targeting Ebola, they "have the potential to be a mAb delivery system that offers protection against highly pathogenic infectious diseases, such as EBOV, in resource-limited and other challenging settings," Selvaraju pointed out. The study results, published in Cell Reports, showed that these dMABs had a broad range of expression and "provided rapid protection against lethal mouse-adapted Ebola virus challenge."
As for the effects of dMABs in the prevention of Lyme disease, Selvaraju reported that "this is the first demonstration of employing DNA transfer as a delivery system for antibodies that block transmission of Lyme disease-causing Borrelia in animal models" and noted no vaccine against Lyme disease exists today. As reported in The Journal of Infectious Disease, about 75–77% of the dMAB-inoculated mice in the study demonstrated protection against the transfer of this bacterium by infected ticks.
Inovio, Selvaraju noted, plans to develop an array of dMAB products. "With synthetic design and in-patient production, the dMAb technology has the potential to rapidly respond to emerging global viral threats and improve multiple properties of traditional vaccines such as time to protection, manufacturing and storage," he added.
In view of all of the above, H.C. Wainwright maintains its Buy rating and $13 per share price target on Inovio, whose stock is currently trading at around $5.35 per share.[NLINSERT]
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Disclosures from H.C. Wainwright & Co., Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., Company Update, November 27, 2018
Investment Banking Services include, but are not limited to, acting as a manager/co-manager in the underwriting or placement of securities, acting as financial advisor, and/or providing corporate finance or capital markets-related services to a company or one of its affiliates or subsidiaries within the past 12 months.
I, Raghuram Selvaraju, Ph.D. and Yi Chen, Ph.D. CFA , certify that 1) all of the views expressed in this report accurately reflect my personal views about any and all subject securities or issuers discussed; and 2) 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; and 3) neither myself nor any members of my household is an officer, director or advisory board member of these companies.
None of the research analysts or the research analyst's household has a financial interest in the securities of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (including, without limitation, any option, right, warrant, future, long or short position).
As of October 31, 2018 neither the Firm nor its affiliates beneficially own 1% or more of any class of common equity securities of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Neither the research analyst nor the Firm has any material conflict of interest in of which the research analyst knows or has reason to know at the time of publication of this research report.
The research analyst principally responsible for preparation of the report does not receive compensation that is based upon any specific investment banking services or transaction but is compensated based on factors including total revenue and profitability of the Firm, a substantial portion of which is derived from investment banking services.
The Firm or its affiliates did not receive compensation from Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for investment banking services within twelve months before, but will seek compensation from the companies mentioned in this report for investment banking services within three months following publication of the research report.
The Firm does not make a market in Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as of the date of this research report.