Echelon starts Immunovaccine at speculative buy

Echelon Wealth Partners initiated coverage of Immunovaccine (TSX:IMV) with a “speculative buy” rating and one-year price target of $2.25. The stock closed at 74 cents on Thursday.

Analyst Doug Loe writes that the company’s lead technology is DepoVax, a water-free, lipid-based injectable antigen delivery platform that despite its simplicity in concept is more complex than that in design.

“The platform has already demonstrated that it can engender a potent cell-based and antibody-based immune response to DepoVax-formulated antigens in both infectious disease and oncology markets,” he added.

In the near term, he said his valuation is focused mostly on two lead Phase 1/2 DepoVax-formulated vaccine candidates: DPX-RSV, targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lung infection, and DPX-Survivac, targeting cancer forms that overexpress the apoptosis suppressor protein, survivin, but with an initial focus on ovarian cancer where survivin overexpression is notably strong.

RSV-targeted DPX-RSV has already generated positive immunological data in a 40-patient Phase 1 study in healthy adults that showed antigen-specific antibody-based immune response in 75% of patients receiving a low-dose of DPX-RSV and in 100% of high-dose DPX-RSV subjects out to day 84 of the six-month study, Mr. Loe said.

In a separately positive 54-patient Phase 1 ovarian cancer study, testing DPX-Survivac, he said data showed that the vast majority of evaluable patients (47 of 54, or 87%) experienced acute T cell-mediated response to survivin and of those patients, sustainable T cell mediated activity was demonstrated longer term with repeated DPX-Survivac administration (37 of 47 responsive patients, or 79%).