It’s interesting to see how traders are flocking to certain stocks in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. One noteworthy influx of trading volume and analyst coverage has surrounded Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) stock.
Much of the interest, as you might imagine, involves the company’s prospects of being first to market with a Covid-19 vaccine. Inovio isn’t the only player in this space, of course, but they could certainly be considered a frontrunner.
A recently published research study further fueled the fire, provoking even more investor interest in INO stock. Let’s consider the implications of this newly available data, both for the stock shares and the progress of the vaccine.
Clearing a Hurdle
While the ultimate objective is full regulatory approval, preliminary research-backed findings are an essential first step for a vaccine. That hurdle seems to have been surmounted for Inovio’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4800.
In the aforementioned research study, laboratory mice and guinea pigs were immunized with INO-4800. After the immunization, the researchers measured antigen-specific T-cell responses, thereby analyzing the activity of the antibodies that neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The findings, by no means the end of the road, were nevertheless highly encouraging. The research study concluded that INO-4800 “results in robust expression of the S protein in vitro… This preliminary dataset identifies INO-4800 as a potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate, supporting further translational study.”
When a research study like this concludes that further study should be conducted, that’s great news. It’s basically giving the scientific community a green light to explore the drug candidate as a viable treatment.
And let’s not bury the real headline here, which is that Inovio reached this preliminary milestone within a matter of months. That’s almost unprecedented in the domain of medical research, where vaccine research typically takes much longer.
But if fast-tracking the research process is what it takes to potentially help save lives, then so be it. As long as the rigor isn’t compromised in the research process, Inovio’s success should benefit not only the company but the global community.
The Analysts Weigh In
Having this research under its belt, Inovio now intends to request the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization to commence Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. The company hopes to begin these trials in July or August.
From here, the research only gets bigger in scope and significance. In fact, for Phases 2 and 3, Inovio plans to hire 2,000 front-line health-care workers.
Plus, Inovio plans to test the vaccine on larger animals such as rabbits and monkeys. Not only that, but the company Inovio is already proceeding with Phase 1 human trials for the vaccine candidate.
40 volunteers are enrolled in the human-trials study. Inovio looks forward to reporting the initial results for the human safety and immune responses in late June.
For a number of analysts, the positive preliminary results took center stage for Inovio. For instance, H.C. Wainwright analyst Ram Selvaraju declared, “In our view, these animal data bode well for the upcoming data from multiple animal challenge studies and data readout from the ongoing Phase 1 study in June.”
Selvaraju issued a “buy” rating as well as a price target of $17 for INO stock. Meanwhile, Aydin Huseynov, an analyst at Benchmark, initiated the stock with a rating of “buy” along with a highly optimistic price target of $28.
But high price targets aren’t unreasonable, as Inovio’s preliminary clinical data provide hope for the populace and a sound basis for major stock-price upside.
The Final Word on INO Stock
Where the data leads, informed investors must follow. And when it comes to Inovio, the data suggests the possibility of better and faster progress towards a vaccine for this unfortunate disease, along with powerful moves in INO stock.
Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.