* Says 83 pct of patients relapse free after a year
* Shares more than triple to $5.66
(Updates share price, volume, adds top shareholders)
NEW YORK, Sept 8 Opexa Therapeutics Inc
(OPXA.O) said on Tuesday further analysis of clinical data
showed that more than 83 percent of patients taking its
experimental multiple sclerosis drug remained relapse-free
after a year.
The news more than tripled the value of the tiny company in
extremely heavy trading. Opexa shares closed up $4.13 at $5.66
on Nasdaq with more than 56 million shares traded, meaning
every share in the company has traded nearly five times.
The biotechnology company said the favorable data were seen
in a mid-stage study of 150 patients with relapsing remitting
multiple sclerosis. Patients with this type of MS -- typically
the initial stage of the progressive neurological disease --
have unpredictable relapses followed by months to years of no
new signs of disease activity.
The company said the annualized relapse rate among patients
who took its Tovaxin drug fell to 20 percent, a 42 percent
reduction compared with placebo.
Moreover, the company said 73 percent of Tovaxin-treated
patients showed stabilization or improvement in MS disability,
including 16.5 percent with a sustained improvement of at least
one full point on a standard disability scale.
Opexa, based in The Woodlands, Texas, said it plans to
recruit similar patients for another Phase IIb study of the
drug, which is a vaccine tailored to individual patients. It
helps limit attacks by immune system cells called T-cells on
myelin, the protein sheath that protects nerves.
The company's top shareholders include the Albert and
Margaret Alkek Foundation, which held more than 12 percent of
outstanding shares, according to Reuters Estimates, and several
company board members and officers, including Medivation
Inc(MDVN.O) chief executive David Hung.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot, editing by
Dave Zimmerman, Gerald E. McCormick, Leslie Gevirtz)