EMERGING COMPANY PROFILE | REPRINT FROM APR. 7, 2023
BY RICHARD GUY, BIOPHARMA ANALYST
Inovio spin-out Geneos is taking its parent company’s plasmid delivery technology and IL-12 adjuvant into the realm of personalized neoantigen vaccines, with a little help from neoantigen discovery tech developed at the Wistar Institute. Led by founder and CEO Niranjan Sardesai, formerly head of R&D and chief operating officer at Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO), Geneos Therapeutics Inc. has raised $40 million and is backed by Inovio, Santé Ventures, Korea Investment Partners and Flerie Invest. With its first clinical data in hand and another read out coming in June, the company aims to raise a series B round in the coming months.
Sardesai told BioCentury that during his decade at Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO), which ended in 2019, he saw more opportunity in Inovio’s platform than the biotech was able to prioritize. As a public company with a platform technology, “the focus had to be on developing the late-stage pipeline because that’s where a lot of the value creation goes on,” he said. That meant focusing on population vaccines such as now-Phase III candidate VGX-3100 targeting HPV, leaving untapped the platform’s potential to create personalized vaccines. “A spin-out was the best approach because we were able to attract new pools of investor capital,” Sardesai said. Geneos Therapeutics Inc. licensed exclusive rights to Inovio’s electroporation-based DNA plasmid delivery system, dubbed Cellectra, plus a plasmid encoding IL-12. It is marrying the technology with methods to identify, design and incorporate neoantigens into vaccines from David Weiner’s lab at the Wistar Institute.
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