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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (AP) — Galena Biopharma Inc.'s shares soared Wednesday after the biopharmaceutical company announced that it has secured a new patent for the cancer therapy vaccine that it is developing.
THE SPARK: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a new patent for NeuVax, a peptide vaccine that the company is developing with the hopes of inducing immunity to breast cancer recurrence in certain patients.
The patent covers the use of NeuVax in women with HER-2 positive breast cancer. The gene is associated with an aggressive type of the disease that is less responsive to hormone treatment. NeuVax is intended for women who are not eligible for treatment with Roche's breast cancer drug Herceptin because they have lower levels of the HER-2 gene.
THE BIG PICTURE: NeuVax is an immune therapy that is intended to prevent breast cancer from recurring. The product is not approved and is in Phase 3 trials.
Galena says it is targeting a significant unmet medical need with this drug. Of the roughly 230,000 women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer annually, about 75 percent have some tissue that tests positive for a level of HER-2 staining. NeuVax would treat about the 50 to 60 percent of those patients whose levels are too low for treatment with Herceptin.
The company hopes to provide a large group of early-stage breast cancer patients an option for HER-2 targeted treatment to maintain their disease-free status.
SHARE ACTION: Galena's shares jumped 31 cents, or 18.1 percent, to $2.02 by afternoon trading. Shares of the Lake Oswego, Ore.-based company have traded between 30 cents and $2.91 in the past 52 weeks.