Inovio files for $50M offering amid Covid-19 vaccine hunt; Zydus Cadila signs on with XOMA on IL-2 deal
→ Inovio, the company now building a DNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus, has filed for a $50 million equity offering. Touting its experience bringing a vaccine for MERS — a related virus — into Phase II, Inovio has called itself “the leader in coronavirus vaccines” and, with funding from the Center for Epidemic Preparedness, has said it will have a vaccine in a Phase I human trial in April.
So far, one vaccine is in the clinic. Moderna Therapeutics and the NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases have shipped their vaccine to Washington and begun looking for healthy volunteers.
→ As IL-2 drug programs ramp up — highlighted by Sanofi‘s recent $2.5 billion buyout of Synthorx — another IL-2 deal has taken shape. India-based pharma Zydus Cadila has reached a licensing agreement with XOMA Corporation, which focuses on antibody therapeutics, to advance an IL-2-based immuno-oncology drug candidate. Terms haven’t been disclosed. Combining Zydus’ IL-2 with XOMA’s novel anti-IL-2 monoclonal antibody, the new IO candidate will be advanced through formal clinical trials as per the agreement.
→ViiV Healthcare — the HIV therapies company created jointly by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline — announced positive data from a Phase III trial showing once-every-two-month dosing of the injectable antiviral combo cabotegravir and rilpivirine has similar efficacy to monthly dosing.
→ Small-cap cancer vaccine biotech Immutep — originally known as Prima Biotech — has received its second IND approval for eftilagimod alpha, an immune-modulating drug that will be tested alongside chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer.