AP News

Endocyte surges on news for cancer drug

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Endocyte nearly doubled in value Friday after European Union regulators said its drug Vynfinit should be approval as a treatment for ovarian cancer, and the company said the drug helped slow the progression of lung cancer.

Endocyte stock reached an all-time high of $33.70 Friday, and in afternoon trading it was up $13.64, or 93.2 percent, at $28.28. The shares closed at $14.64 on Thursday.

Endocyte and its partner Merck said a panel of European Union regulatory advisers said Vynfinit should be approved as a treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer in adult women whose disease isn't responding to platinum-based chemotherapy.

The panel's recommendation also covers two imaging agents that are intended to help identify patients who could be helped by Vynfinit.

Vynfinit, or vintafolide, is designed to target a receptor that appears on cancer cells but doesn't exist on most other cells. The drug is intended to be used with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.

Cowen and Co. analyst Simos Simeonidis said EU regulators should make a final decision on the drug within three months. He expects them to approve Vynfinit and said the drug should be launched a short time later. He rates Endocyte shares "Outperform."

The companies also said patients with lung cancer had greater time to death or disease progression if they were treated with Vynfinit and doxorubicin. The midstage trial compared those drugs to standard treatment in 199 patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Endocyte Inc. doesn't have any approved drugs. The company is based in West Lafayette, Ind.

Merck and Endocyte announced a partnership in April 2012. Merck paid Endocyte $120 million upfront, and Endocyte could get more than $1 billion if Vynfinit is successfully developed as a treatment for multiple types of cancer.

Shares of Merck & Co. lost 42 cents to $55.17 in afternoon trading.

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