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Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Drug Extends Lives of Cancer Patients

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Company shares soar 50% after a halt. The experimental treatment bavituximab doubled months of survival for patients in a study.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Lung cancer patients taking Peregrine Pharmaceuticals' (PPHM) experimental drug bavituximab in a company study lived twice as many months as those treated with only chemotherapy.

The study results support Peregrine's plans to continue testing the drug as a second-line treatment for lung cancer and the company hopes to move soon on securing a partner to help fund the next phase of clinical trials

Shares of Peregrine rose more than 40% to $4.35 in early afternoon trading Friday. Nasdaq stock market trading of Peregrine was halted just before noon eastern time. The shares had already gained 600% in the past three months and were rising before the halt Friday.

In a mid-stage study of 121 patients, those given a lower dose of bavituximab and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel lived for a median of just more than 11 months compared with 5.6 months for patients treated with just chemo and placebo. Those study participants given a higher dose of bavituximab and docetaxel lived more than 13 months and the pooled survival time was 12.1 months for the group treated with Peregrine's drug.

Reuters reported the results ahead of an official release. Researchers are presenting data at a medical meeting in Chicago later Friday afternoon. (See Peregrine Pharmaceuticals to Lift Veil on Cancer Drug Study Friday.)

Docetaxel is currently used for lung cancer patients. Sanofi (SNY) sells the drug branded as Taxotere, while Hospira (HSP) sells generic docetaxel.

Peregrine CEO Steven King is hoping the study results will help him lock up a partner to pay for the next phase of clinical trials. King recently told Minyanville that he's had 15 meetings with potential development partners. A partner would help Peregrine pay for the third and final phase of studies generally needed for US approval of a new treatment. King said he hopes to find a partner that would allow Peregrine to retain some of the US sales rights for the drug if it should ever be approved.

"We are currently in discussions with several potential pharmaceutical partners who have expressed great interest in our bavituximab oncology program," King says in a statement Friday.

The company plans a conference call for investors and analysts Monday morning.

Twitter: @brettchase

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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