Roche, Inovio plan partnership to develop vaccines

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. could earn more than $400 million through a partnership with Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG to develop potential vaccines that target prostate cancer and hepatitis B.

Inovio shares surged almost 30 percent in premarket trading.

The companies said Tuesday that Roche will pay Blue Bell, Pa.-based Inovio $10 million upfront plus potential developmental and commercial milestone payments that could reach $412.5 million. Roche also will provide research and development support for the vaccines, which have yet to start testing in humans.

In return, Roche will receive an exclusive license for Inovio’s DNA-based vaccines and the use of technology to deliver them.

Hepatitis B is spread through blood and bodily fluids. Symptoms can include fatigue, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice. People who develop the chronic form of the disease face higher risks of liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Inovio shares rose 63 cents, or 28.4 percent, to $2.85 in premarket trading. They have traded in a 52-week range of 44 cents to $3.03.

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