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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.


Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. is revolutionizing vaccines to prevent and treat today's cancers and challenging infectious diseases. Its SynCon vaccines, delivered using the company's proprietary electroporation technology, are generating best-in-class immune responses, with therapeutic T cells exceeding other technologies. Inovio's lead vaccine, a therapeutic against HPV-caused precancers and cancers, is in phase 2. Other phase 1 and preclinical programs target prostate, breast and lung cancers as well as HIV, influenza, malaria and hepatitis. Roche and Inovio have an exclusive worldwide partnership to develop and commercialize Inovio's DNA immunotherapies for prostate cancer and hepatitis B.

The information provided below is from analysts, newsletters and other contributors. Please contact the company and visit its website before making an investment decision.

Expert Comments:

Jason Kolbert, Maxim Group (3/18/14) "We are raising our price target on Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. to $6 from $3. . .as the company draws closer to phase 2 proof-of-concept results in the VGX-3100 trial, we believe the probability of a positive outcome rises."

Jonathan Aschoff, Brean Capital (2/7/14) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. is differentiated by its use of electroporation in conjunction with DNA in its therapeutic and preventative vaccines. Specific DNA sequences are relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture and the accompanying electroporation overcomes the hurdle of delivery through the cell membrane. Electroporation temporarily disrupts cell membranes near the injection site, thereby allowing the injected DNA to enter cells and serve as the template for mRNA production and ultimately production of the protein antigens. Without electroporation, cellular uptake of injected exogenous DNA is far less efficient.

Inovio is approaching a key catalyst in Q3/14, that being the phase 2 results for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (grade 2/3 or 3). We hope and intend to see a difference in histopathological regression of cervical lesions to CIN grade 1 or less between VGX-3100 and placebo. It would also be noteworthy if the trial showed at least as robust of an immune response as was shown at the highest dose in the prior trial, but we believe that most investors are more looking for that first clear indication of clinical efficacy from Inovio's oncology pipeline."

Jason Kolbert, Maxim Group (1/27/14) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s stock performed well last year, as data continued to validate the platform technology (DNA plasmids and electroporation). Further validation came from news last year of the partnership with Roche Holding AG, including $10M up front and milestones of up to $412M plus double-digit royalties."

Biotech Research Group, Seeking Alpha (1/23/14) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. is about to lay comfortably at the end of the rainbow and swim in a pot of gold. . .currently, the company has an impressive pipeline that has produced intriguing results though its preclinical and phase 1 trials. For instance, Inovio's scientifically evaluated and recent peer-reviewed publication demonstrated stellar results. . .with a healthy cash balance and zero debt, Inovio is a perfect candidate to park some long-term money and watch the fireworks from the sidelines."

The Life Sciences Report Interview with Jason Kolbert (12/17/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. can manufacture a plasmid vaccine in the lab for literally a cost of pennies. . . the company's proprietary electroporation technology allows the plasmid to pass through cell membranes and into cells, which then synthesize the antigens that create a T-cell response. . .

Roche Holding AG just signed a deal earning Inovio $10M upfront and $412M in potential milestones to develop plasmids that will target prostate cancer, as well as hepatitis B. This is an exciting time for Inovio.

TLSR: Jason, in mid-2014 we're expecting to get a readout on Inovio's phase 2 trial testing its VGX-3100 vaccine in 148 patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. What will this event mean for investors?

JK: If those data are compelling, then investors will have to start valuing Inovio not just on the fact that Roche, a major global pharma, seems to be validating its science, but on the real commercial opportunity for its cervical cancer vaccine. . .I think the Roche partnership is probably the first of several to come, because what this little company has is a blueprint of how to manufacture antigens using plasmids. When you think about the number of opportunities that exist for a company like Inovio, it's almost limitless. . .

You and I are taking a lifetime of work by Dr. Joseph Kim, the cofounder and CEO of Inovio, and boiling it down into a nutshell. Sure, if I gave you the recipe for the plasmid, you could go into the lab and make it. But Inovio has the recipe. It knows how to come up with the DNA sequence that will turn on the machinery of a cell to produce a specific antigen or antigens." More >

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The Life Sciences Report Interview with Reni Benjamin (12/11/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. [is] developing and advancing DNA vaccines with a twist. The company is both using electroporation, a small electrical pulse, to differentiate [itself] from 'plain vanilla' DNA vaccine players. Inovio is more focused on infectious disease or cancers caused by infectious disease, such as cervical cancer due to human papillomavirus (HPV). Back in September Inovio partnered two preclinical compounds with Roche—one in prostate cancer and one in hepatitis B. OncoSec is more focused on the oncology space, focusing on conditions that have shown huge responses to the immune system, such as melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. [Inovio has] significant phase 2 data due out in 2014." More >

Thom Calandra, The Calandra Report (12/9/13) "Dr. Joseph Kim, the Korean-American laboratory science Ph.D who started San Diego-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., is an understated powerhouse. . .the company's version of electroporation injection seems to have convinced Roche Holding AG, Merck & Co. Inc. and other pharmaceutical houses to give Inovio a go. We'll know more by June 2014, thanks to FDA results for that phase 2 trial, plus possible scientific papers. By then, if these plasmids, designed using computing power, are the real deal, the shares already will have catapulted. Inovio has $47M cash and no debt."

The Life Sciences Report Interview with Patrick Cox (10/24/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. came out of the work of David Weiner, who discovered how to genetically engineer plasmids, which are circular strings of DNA, to produce any protein that is normally produced by our DNA. We can create artificial DNA with these plasmids to make things like antigens, which alert the immune system to the presence of disease when it's normally hidden, and then cause the immune system to ramp up production of specific kinds of T cells that will allow the effective countering of viral diseases or cancers. This is really an astonishing technology, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

". . .I'm not at all bothered about the fact that price has gone up. Inovio still has extraordinary potential, and I'll tell you why. Here's one example: Monoclonal antibodies are expensive therapies, and they are difficult to handle, but this technology can actually produce monoclonal antibodies in these little inoculation sites. It puts this code in your body, and you make the antibodies yourself. . .I think that down the road, after Inovio's cancer and virus vaccines have begun to pay off and when the company is able to go where it wants to go, we're going to be looking at monoclonal antibodies, then life-extension technologies, and then other exciting applications. I really want to see Inovio CEO Joseph Kim and Dave Weiner continue to push this technology into the future." More >

Jason Kolbert, Maxim Group (9/25/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced a key article has published in Landes BioScience. . .the development of methods to generate therapeutic antibodies and antibody-like molecules in vivo, distinct from an active antigen-based immunization strategy, has considerable clinical utility. . .we believe it is the quality of the company's platform that attracted Roche Holding AG to the recently announced partnership. . .the company represents a new platform technology, 'synthetic vaccines'—engineered vaccines that can be designed for both prophylaxis (prevention) and for therapeutic treatment of T-cell mediated diseases. . .a major advantage of [Inovio's] platform is the process."

Raghuram Selvaraju, Aegis Capital Corp. (9/11/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced a partnership deal with Roche Holding AG. . .Roche and Inovio agreed to an exclusive worldwide license agreement to research, develop and commercialize Inovio's preclinical DNA cancer vaccines targeting prostate cancer (INO-5150) and hepatitis B (INO-1800). . .cervical cancer data is the next major catalyst. . .if positive, we believe such results could position Inovio at the forefront of the vaccine field, with evidence of platform validation achieved in both the infectious disease and oncology arenas."

Edward Nash, Cowen & Co. (9/11/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Roche Holding AG to develop two DNA-based vaccines. . .both compounds are in preclinical development and have generated robust immune responses in animal models. . .the deal speaks to the strength of Inovio's technology platform. . .we see the possibility of other major pharmaceutical companies following Roche's lead and entering into similar collaboration agreements with Inovio. . .we remain bullish on Inovio shares and reiterate our Outperform rating."

Jonathan Aschoff, Brean Capital (9/10/13) "Roche Holding AG entered into an exclusive agreement to license Inovio Pharmaceutical Corp.'s INO-5150 for prostate cancer and INO-1800 for chronic hepatitis B, as well as the use of Inovio's Cellectra electroporation technology for delivery of the immunotherapies, with Roche funding all product development. . .the $10M upfront payment alone will fund Inovio through Q3/15. . .with its licensing agreement with Roche, we believe Inovio will be able to be more focused on developing its remaining pipeline."

Charles Duncan, Piper Jaffray & Co. (9/10/13) "Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced this morning that the company has granted Roche Holding AG exclusive worldwide rights to Inovio's DNA vaccines for prostate cancer (INO-5150) and hepatitis B (INO-1800), as well as an option for an additional oncology program. . .besides the good, in our view, financial terms of the deal, the partnership provides further validation of Inovio's platform electroporation/SynCon technologies by one of the leading biopharma companies. We anticipate this to be a longer-term positive for shares and would be buyers even following today's gains; we reiterate our Overweight rating and $3.50 price target."

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