INOVIO (NASDAQ: INO) Stock Shoots up Following a $71 Million Funding by the U.S. DoD for Vaccine Delivery Devices

Jun 23, 2020
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INOVIO Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) has secured multi-million-dollar funding from the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) for its devices which will be used to deliver COVID-19 vaccine directly into the skin.

As per the company’s press release, the U.S. DoD has granted $71 million to INOVIO Pharmaceuticals in order to assist the biotech enterprise in scaling up the production of its Cellectra 3PSP smart device as well as the procurement of Cellectra 2000 devices intended to deliver COVID-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4800, directly into the skin.

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Once delivered into the skin by INOVIO’s Cellectra 3PSP smart device, the INO-4800 vaccine candidate stimulates the human body’s immune system to destroy the COVID-19 virus. Readers should note that the results of the INO-4800 Phase 1 clinical trial will be published later in June, with phase 2/3 efficacy trials currently slated for July/August.

As per the claims by the pharmaceutical, the “INO-4800 was designed using INOVIO's proprietary DNA medicine platform rapidly after the publication of the genetic sequence of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

Interestingly, INO-4800 is currently the only nucleic-acid based vaccine candidate that is stable at room temperature for more than a year, precluding the need to be frozen during transportation and storage. This characteristic makes this vaccine candidate by INOVIO Pharmaceuticals ideal for mass immunization, pending conclusive findings regarding its efficacy.

The DoD grant supplements a $5 million grant each by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), meant to accelerate the testing of INOVIO’s CELLECTRA® 3PSP. As a refresher, the Initial development of CELLECTRA® 3PSP smart device began in 2019 with a grant of $8.1 million from the medical arm of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Medical CBRN Defense Consortium.

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INOVIO's President and CEO Dr. J. Joseph Kim said in a statement today:

"INOVIO is very pleased to receive this significant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to continue our rapid scale-up capacity for our breakthrough DNA medicines delivery device CELLECTRA®. We look forward to working closely with DoD, JPEO-CBRND, and JPL-CBRND-EB to provide much-needed protection to DoD personnel and their families through development of a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.”

Elaborating on the capability of the 3PSP devices, the statement reads:

“CELLECTRA® 3PSP is a small, portable, hand-held, user-friendly device that runs on "AA" batteries. The device is designed to function reliably in challenging environments and can be stockpiled in large quantities without maintenance, characteristics that are critical in a pandemic situation. INOVIO's San Diego device manufacturing facility has produced initial quantities of the device, while also showing that the design and scale-up of the manufacturing processes can be transferred to contract manufacturers in order to further increase supply.”

Investors have reacted euphorically to the procurement of DoD funding by INOVIO Pharmaceuticals. As an illustration, the stock was up 10.72 percent or $1.64 in the pre-market session to $16.94, as of 09:06 a.m. ET. This corresponds to a market capitalization of over $2 billion. Year to date, the stock is up an astonishing 363 percent even as the benchmark S&P 500 index is down around 3.5 percent in the same timeframe.

Of course, given the pandemic-era realities, the biotech sector remains under the perennial radar of investors. However, this scrutiny often brings unbridled enthusiasm that wanes following disappointing vaccine candidate testing results. Consequently, we encourage our readers to exercise due diligence and thoroughly research their target biotech companies.

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