Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday it has received a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the testing of a proprietary smart device for intradermal delivery of a vaccine to treat the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based company US:INO is developing a vaccine called INO-4800, which is now in preclinical studies. The company is aiming to advance to human clinical trials in April 7073彩票注册and has secured up to $9 million in funding from Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, a global organization based in Oslo.
Inovio shares surged 13% on the news in a deeply negative market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average US:DJIA was recently down more than 2,000 points, or 9%, while the S&P 500 US:SPX was down 7.9%, amid growing concerns about the measures countries are taking to combat the spread of the virus and the impact it will have on economic activity.
7073彩票注册Inovio stock has been on a tear and rallies every time the company posts a press release about plans to combat the coronavirus. The company has 15 DNA medicine clinical programs in development but has no approved products.
The stock is one of a group of small biotechs that have seen their shares soar after issuing releases that say they are developing tests or vaccines or other types of treatment for the virus. Some have taken advantage of the movement in their share price to do opportunistic share offerings. NanoViricides Inc. US:NNVC,7073彩票注册 for example, issued 2.5 million shares priced at $3 each in January.
Novavax Inc. US:NVAX, which in 2013 developed a vaccine for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus, filed a shelf registration in late January to raise up to $100 million over time.
For daily coverage of the virus, see: Coronavirus update: 127,863 cases, 4,718 deaths, Trump extends travel restrictions to parts of Europe
On Thursday, Inovio said its Cellectra 3PSP device is a small, hand-held and portable device that runs on AA batteries and can be used to inject a vaccine. It was originally developed using $8.1 million in funding from the medical arm of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Medical CBRN Defense Consortium.
Inovio reiterated that it expects to deliver one million doses of INO-4800 by year-end. It said it is working to “scale up both INO-4800 and CELLECTRA 3PSP devices to potentially make available millions of doses to combat this outbreak.”
Inovio shares have soared 175% in the year to date. The ProShares Ultra Nasdaq Biotech ETF US:BIB has fallen 32%, while the S&P 500 has fallen 21% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 24%.