Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO) is much worth looking at now than 6 months ago.
The deal signed between MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s development arm, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals says something.
MedImmune acquired exclusive rights to Inovio’s INO-3112 immunotherapy against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which account for more than 70 percent of cervical pre-cancers and cancers. INO-3112 is in Phase 1/2 clinical trials for cervical and head and neck cancers.
Terms of the Agreement
– MedImmune to pay Inovio $27.5 million plus possible milestone payments up to $700 million.
– MedImmune will fund development costs.
– Inovio could receive double-digit tiered royalties if the drug makes it to market.
In addition, the companies intend to develop up to two more DNA-based cancer vaccine products.
According to David Berman, senior vice president and head of Oncology Innovative Medicines at MedImmune, the collaboration with Inovio leverages the involved firms internal expertise in the use of vaccines to drive antigen-specific T-cell responses. Mr. Berman stated that the combination of their broad immuno-oncology portfolio with Inovio’s T-cell-activating INO-3112, which enhances cancer specific killer T-cells, has the potential to deliver real clinical benefits for patients.
If MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca intends to combine INO-3112 with selected immunotherapy molecules in its pipeline in HPV-driven cancers. This means that:
MedImmune sees value in Inovio’s technology and vaccine, which validates Inovio’s technology.
It is well recognized that the benefits from immuno-oncology molecules, such as those in MedImmune’s portfolio, can be enhanced when they are used in combination with cancer vaccines that generate tumor-specific T-cells.
The choice using Inovio’s INO-3112 vaccine speaks to the promise of Inovio’s vaccine. Many biotech oncology firms crave to have one of their products be selected for a combination with an immunotherapy from a large pharmaceutical company.
The announced deal adds oncology to Inovio and MedImmune’s existing infectious disease partnerships.
The two companies have two projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that focus on Ebola, influenza and bacterial infections.
The collaboration is expected to advance Inovio’s cancer vaccine research and development pipeline with a leading cancer immunotherapy company.
Bottom line: Inovio is much better appreciated today than one year ago. The main reason for the increased enthusiasm is that the promises have been transferred into facts with the promising results of Inovio’s technologies and vaccines and their validation by top drug developers and assessors.
The Stock: INO is trading around $7.77, having a market capitalization of around 558 million. In the last three months the stock has been trading between $9.03 and a little less than $7. The 52-week low is $6.33 and its 52-week high is $13.04
The question is: Do you want to buy a small number of stocks before a next catalyst, or you prefer to wait for the drug’s results that would validate MedImmune’s and Inovio’s optimism?
It is all up to you.
In case you select the first possibility, try to be careful not to exaggerate. Accumulate as more positive news builds up.
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