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Oncolytics Biotech surges on lung cancer data

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Oncolytics Biotech ($ONCY) has generated more upbeat data from an anticancer virus program. This morning the Calgary-based biotech reported tumor shrinkage in 95% of patients analyzed who took its experimental anticancer virus and a pair of chemotherapy drugs for a form of lung cancer.

The company's shares took off on the news, trading up 31% to $4.69 this morning. And today's news builds on upbeat interim results in December from a late-stage study of the anticancer virus in patients with head and neck cancer.

The company conducted an analysis of 20 patients with squamous cell carcinoma in their lungs on its candidate Reolysin--a version of a common respiratory virus--as well as the chemo drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel. Of those analyzed, 19--or 95%--showed tumor shrinkage and the mean reduction in tumor size was 33.7%.

"Based on these findings we intend to continue to look at Reolysin as a treatment for cancers of the lung and cancers that metastasize to the lung," Oncolytics CEO Brad Thompson said in a statement. He noted that the findings bolster the case for use of Reolysin prior to surgeries to remove cancer.

Though these results seem promising, it's too early to declare victory. The ongoing Phase II study, which is still enrolling patents, has a main efficacy goal of objective response rates, with secondary endpoints of progression free survival and overall survival.

This could be a big year for anticancer viruses. Amgen ($AMGN) expects to report Phase III data this year on talimogene laherparepvec in patients with advanced melanoma, a big event for the program to develop the engineered cold sore virus to combat cancers.

- here's the release
- see Reuters' article
- and the report from MarketWatch

Special Report: Talimogene laherparepvec (OncoVex) – Top 10 Late-Stage Cancer Drugs – 2012

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