What happened

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -3.13%) were soaring 13.4% higher as of 3:10 p.m. EDT on Friday. The big jump came after Inovio reported positive interim results on Thursday from a phase 2 clinical study evaluating experimental drug VGX-3100 in treating patients with anal dysplasia, a precancerous condition caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). 

So what

Positive clinical results nearly always boost biotech stocks, especially for companies like Inovio that don't have approved products yet. And the phase 2 results for VGX-3100 were definitely encouraging. Half of the 20 patients in the study showed clearance of precancerous lesions associated with HPV types 16/18. Fifteen patients (75%) had an overall decrease in the number of lesions six months after beginning treatment with VGX-3100.

Healthcare professional wearing gloves and holding a syringe with a vaccine bottle

Image source: Getty Images.

Investors also no doubt view the results for VGX-3100 in the phase 2 study for anal dysplasia as boding well for the drug's chances in a late-stage study targeting cervical dysplasia. These results are also potentially promising for another phase 2 study of the drug in treating HPV-related vulvar dysplasia.

Now what

It's important to keep in mind that the results Inovio announced on Thursday were only interim results. The phase 2 study is still under way and won't wrap up until next year. 

There are a couple of other key developments to watch, though. Inovio expects to report top-line data from its Reveal 1 late-stage study evaluating VGX-3100 in treating cervical dysplasia by the fourth quarter of 2020. The biotech is also developing an experimental vaccine for protecting against novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Inovio hopes to begin clinical testing of the vaccine in April.