What happened

Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) were jumping 10.5% as of 11:07 a.m. EST on Friday. The biotech didn't announce any new developments. But Inovio's gain likely reflected some investors' continued optimism as the company now moves ahead with a phase 2 study of COVID-19 vaccine candidate INO-4800.

So what

Investors usually shouldn't place much emphasis on big gains (or losses, for that matter) on no news the Friday after Thanksgiving. Such moves often are only noise on a historically low-volume trading day. Instead of temporary price swings, what really matters are the company's growth prospects.

Physician holding syringe with a needle and a vaccine bottle

Image source: Getty Images.

Inovio's growth prospects don't depend on just one pipeline candidate. But investors' attention is currently focused heavily on INO-4800. The experimental vaccine's results from phase 2 testing will be extremely important for the biotech stock

Other key programs to watch with Inovio include VGX-3100, which is being evaluated in a late-stage study for treating pre-cancerous cervical dysplasia. INO-5401 appears to have potential in treating glioblastoma muliforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer. The company also recently announced the dosing of the first patient in a phase 1/2 study of INO-3107 in treating recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), a rare disease where noncancerous tumor growths obstruct airways.

Now what

Inovio is working to resolve remaining questions from the Food and Drug Administration about the Cellectra 2000 device used to deliver INO-4800. Settling these questions will be needed before the company can begin a phase 3 study of INO-4800. Positive phase 2 results will also be necessary to advance the experimental COVID-19 vaccine into late-stage testing.

The biotech should have another major catalyst coming next year. Inovio expects to announce results from its Reveal-1 late-stage study of VGX-3100 in the first half of 2021.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.