UPDATE 2-GenVec cancer drug gets orphan status, shares soar

* FDA grants orphan drug status to TNFerade * Shares up as much as 25 pct (Adds analyst comment; updates stock movement)

Nov 4 (Reuters) - Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company GenVec Inc GNVC.O said its experimental drug TNFerade received an orphan drug designation from U.S. health regulators for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, sending its shares up as much as 25 percent.

TNFerade is being developed to treat locally advanced pancreatic cancer by stimulating the production of TNF-alpha -- an immune system protein with anti-cancer effects.

The drug is also being studied as a potential treatment for several other cancers, including esophageal cancer, rectal cancer, and head and neck cancer.

“When combined with the unmet medical need for these various indications, the overall market potential quickly becomes meaningful as well as attractive to a potential partner for TNFerade,” Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Joe Pantginis said in a note.

Pantginis, who has a “buy” rating on the stock, said the company’s shares have the potential to trade toward a range of $2.50 to $3.50.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants orphan drug designation to drugs that may provide a significant therapeutic advantage over existing treatments and target conditions affecting 200,000 or fewer patients in the United States every year.

The status grants the drugmaker a marketing exclusivity of seven years in the United States, upon approval.

Shares of the company were trading up 12 percent at 89 cents Wednesday on Nasdaq. They touched a high of $1.01 earlier in the session. (Reporting by Krishnakali Sengupta in Bangalore; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)