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Prostate Drug Tests Well, Driving Up Stock of Vical

June 02, 1998|From Bloomberg News

Vical Inc. shares rose 10% after the company reported strong results from a 20-patient trial of its potential prostate cancer drug called Leuvectin.

Shares in the San Diego-based company rose $1.63 to close at $17.88 on Nasdaq in trading of 575,700 shares, more than six times the average daily volume for the stock in the past six months.

"I think this is a very significant finding," said Albert Rauch, an analyst at Everen Securities. "You're giving these people an ability to be treated less drastically."

Generally, the patients who were treated in the study are the kind who would be recommended for chemical castration to suppress the testosterone needed by the cancer cells, he said. Leuvectin could represent a chance to avoid that life-altering treatment, he said. Rauch has a rating of "outperform" on Vical.

The data were presented at the 93rd annual meeting of the American Urological Assn., being held in San Diego this week.

The trial was designed as an initial test of the safety and efficacy of the drug. Researchers found evidence suggesting that Leuvectin is a good addition to other anti-cancer treatments and stimulates the body's own defenses against the prostate disease.

Researchers in the study said the drug was well-tolerated in most patients and that it appeared to help some by reducing their blood levels of a compound called prostate-specific antigen--made by tumor cells--at a time when such levels would normally be expected to rise.

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