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Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (INO - Snapshot Report) recently announced encouraging data from a phase I study on its influenza vaccine candidate, SynCon. SynCon is being developed as a universal H1N1 vaccine to protect against several prevalent H1N1 influenza strains.

The phase I study, which enrolled 100 healthy volunteers, evaluated SynCon in multiple dosages and constructs. It was found that 60% of the volunteers who received the highest dose (1.8 mg) of SynCon at least twice showed similar response rates to that of a currently approved seasonal influenza vaccine against a currently circulating H1N1 A/California/07/09 strain.  

SynCon has demonstrated encouraging efficacy against several vaccine strains prevalent in the last 100 years including H1N1 A/South Carolina/1/18 strain (so-called 1918 Spanish flu) as well as all the H1N1 strains that were part of the seasonal trivalent inactivated flu vaccines (TIV) since 1986, including, A/Taiwan/1/86, A/Texas/36/91, A/Bayern/07/95, A/Beijing/262/95, A/New Caledonia/20/99, A/Solomon Islands/03/06, A/Brisbane/59/07, and A/California/07/09.

We believe if successfully developed and eventually approved SynCon will revolutionize the influenza vaccine market. Currently approved influenza vaccines include AstraZeneca’s (AZN - Analyst Report) FluMist Quadrivalent and GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK - Analyst Report) Fluarix Quadrivalent. The currently approved quadrivalent vaccines protect from two strains of influenza A and influenza B each.

Inovio Pharma is also developing vaccines targeting the lucrative pandemic influenza subtypes, H5N1 and H7N9. These vaccines are primarily sold to government buyers.

Inovio Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company, carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Biopharma stocks like UCB (UCBJF) appear to be equally attractive. UCB also carries a Zacks Rank #1.

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