Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (INO - Free Report) announced that it has received an undisclosed milestone payment from AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) as the latter dosed the first patient in a phase II study on the T cell-activating immunotherapy, MEDI0457. The study will evaluate MEDI0457 in combination with AstraZeneca’s anti PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor, Imfinzi (durvalumab), for treating human papilloma virus (HPV) related anal, penile and vulvar cancers.
We remind investors that in August 2015, AstraZeneca’s subsidiary MedImmune in-licensed exclusive rights to Inovio’s INO-3112, which is now known as MEDI0457. This latest study is designed to treat several human papilloma virus (HPV) related cancers.
Shares of Inovio were up almost 1.8% following this news on Monday. However, the stock has inched up 0.8% so far this year, underperforming the industry’s increase of 11.9%.
MedImmune is also evaluating MEDI0457 (a combination of Inovio’s VGX-3100 immunotherapy and a DNA-based immune activator encoded for IL-12) in combination with Imfinzi, for the treatment of HPV-caused cervical plus head and neck cancers. Previously, Inovio received a couple of milestone fees following the initiation of dosing for the aforementioned indications.
VGX-3100, an HPV immunotherapy, is the most advanced candidate in Inovio’s pipeline.
VGX-3100 is currently being evaluated in a phase III study (REVEAL 1) for the treatment of cervical dysplasia caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The company has also initiated enrollment in the confirmatory phase III (REVEAL 2) study. It plans to submit a biologics license application (BLA), seeking an approval for VGX-3100 in 2021. Two more phase II programs are examining the efficacy of VGX-3100 in patients suffering vulvar dysplasia and anal dysplasia.
Meanwhile, last August, Inovio entered into a partnership agreement with the AIDS Malignancy Consortium to evaluate VGX-3100 for treating HPV-associated precancerous conditions in patients, who have tested positive for HIV.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Inovio currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Kamada Ltd. (KMDA - Free Report) and PDL BioPharma, Inc. (PDLI - Free Report) , both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Kamada’s earnings estimates have moved 34.3% north for 2019 and 5% for 2020 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 20.6% so far this year.
PDL BioPharma’s earnings estimates have been revised 100% north for 2019 and 30% for 2020 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged 32% year to date.
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