By The Life Science Report
A clinical study of an HIV vaccine in healthy subjects that found a nearly 100% immune response rate was hailed by a pair of industry analysts.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INO:NASDAQ) announced on May 24 that its HIV vaccine, PENNVAX-GP, produced among the “highest overall levels of immune response rates (cellular and humoral) ever demonstrated in a human study by an HIV vaccine.” According to the company, “the vaccine candidate, PENNVAX-GP, consists of a combination of four HIV antigens designed to cover multiple global HIV strains and generate both an antibody (humoral) immune response as well as a T cell (cellular) immune response to both potentially prevent and treat HIV.”
The company reported that “amongst the evaluated participants receiving PENNVAX-GP and IL-12 via IM vaccination, 27 of 27 (100%) demonstrated a cellular response and 19 of 21 (90%) demonstrated an env specific antibody response. Similar immune responses and response rates were achieved via both ID and IM administration of the vaccine although participants vaccinated via intradermal vaccine administration received 1/5th the dose of vaccine compared to those vaccinated via intramuscular administration.”
Analyst Raghuram Selvaraju of H.C. Wainwright & Co., in a May 25 report, wrote that these “early results are very encouraging but not surprising, as they are in line with results from the company’s trials of other DNA vaccines, including Ebola, Zika and MERS. Interestingly, the intradermal delivery utilized only 20% of the vaccine dose compared to intramuscular administration, yet achieved similar immune responses and response rates. We believe further studies would be conducted to determine whether PENNVAX-GP can safely and effectively prevent HIV infection.”
Selvaraju reiterated the firm’s Buy rating and $13 target price.
In a May 24 Maxim Group report, Jason McCarthy and Jason Kolbert wrote that “when PENNVAX-GP was combined with IL-12 the percent of patients showing both T cell and antibody responses was 100%, or near 100%. . .inducing both T cells to clear viral infected cells and antibodies to clear virus in the blood is key for an HIV vaccine, and where other vaccines fall short (inducing either one or the other).”
The analysts concluded that the “immune responses demonstrated by PENNVAX-GP are among the highest responses shown for an HIV vaccine. With this data, Inovio now has a more clear path forward in the HIV space and the stage is set for a larger clinical program. In addition, we are focused on the VGX-3100 program and the start of the P3 program in cervical dysplasia, which we expect in mid-2017.”
Maxim has a Buy rating on Inovio and raised its 12-month target price to $12 from $10. The company’s shares are trading at around $7.55.
The Motley Fool, in an article by George Budwell dated May 24, noted that an “effective and safe HIV vaccine that can prevent and/or cure patients would easily generate billions in sales in short order. As proof, Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD:NASDAQ), the market share leader in terms of HIV drug sales, rakes in around $13 billion annually for its HIV product line. If Inovio can capture even a sliver of this multi-billion-dollar market, it would be a ginormous win for shareholders, especially in light of the company’s present market cap of only $657 million.”
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