UPDATE 1-Antigenics brain cancer vaccine gets orphan drug status

Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:21am EDT

* FDA grants orphan drug status to cancer vaccine

* Says status granted for brain cancer

* Shares up 41 percent

April 29 (Reuters) - Biotechnology company Antigenics Inc (AGEN.O) said its experimental vaccine, Oncophage, received an orphan drug status from U.S. health regulators for the treatment of brain cancer, sending its shares up 41 percent.

Oncophage, which is currently in a mid-stage trial, received a similar designation by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) last month.

Orphan drug status is given to drugs that treat diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States and grants drug developers seven years of market exclusivity.

In November, data from a small, 12-patient study of the vaccine showed that Oncophage extended survival in patients who were vaccinated following brain cancer surgery.

Results from the mid-stage trial are expected to be presented later this year, Antigenics said.

Oncophage had earlier failed in a kidney cancer trial and a skin cancer trial.

Shares of the company were up 27 cents from their Tuesday's close of 66 cents in pre-market trade Wednesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)

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