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Inovio Pharma Awarded $9M Development Grant for Coronavirus Vaccine

Source:

Inovio Pharmaceuticals' shares rose 30%, setting a new 52-week high price, after the firm reported it received a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Among ongoing worldwide concerns, biotechnology firm Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INO:NASDAQ), which is focused on treating and preventing cancer and infectious diseases, recently announced that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has "awarded it a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed numerous people and infected hundreds more in China to date."

The firm further indicated that "the initial CEPI funding will support Inovio's preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine matched to the outbreak strain...and that CEPI previously awarded Inovio a grant of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus."

Richard Hatchett, CEO of the CEPI, commented, "Given the rapid global spread of the 2019-nCoV virus the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease. Our intention with this work is to leverage our work with Inovio on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platform to speed up vaccine development."

Inovio's President and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim added, "We're extremely honored to expand our partnership with CEPI to tackle this new threat to global public health. Our DNA medicine platform represents the best modern day approach to combating emerging pandemics. We have already demonstrated positive clinical outcomes with our vaccine against MERS-CoV, another coronavirus. Importantly, following the Zika viral infection outbreak, Inovio and our partners developed a vaccine that went from bench to human testing in just seven months the fastest vaccine development on record in recent decades. We believe we can further improve upon this accelerated timeline to meet the current challenge of the emerging Chinese coronavirus 2019-nCoV."

The firm explained in the report that "the CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics...To date, CEPI has committed to investing over $310 million in 12 vaccine candidates (five against Lassa virus, four against MERS-CoV, three against Nipah virus) and two vaccine platforms to develop vaccines against Disease X."

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company headquartered in San Diego, Calif., states that it is bringing IMMUNO-INGENUITY to life and reshaping the future of treating and preventing cancer and infectious diseases. The firm notes that it is focused on the rapid development and deployment of precisely designed DNA medicines to treat, cure and protect people from HPV, cancer and infectious diseases.

Inovio started the day with a market capitalization of around $424.0 million with approximately 100.0 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 10.5%. INO shares opened more than 30% higher today at $5.60 (+$1.36, +32.08%) over Friday's $4.24 closing price and reached a new 52-week high price this morning of $5.95. The stock has traded today between $5.10 and $5.95 per share and is currently trading at $5.53 (+$1.29, +30.42%).

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