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Ahead of the Bell: Anacor shares keep climbing

The Associated Press

Shares of Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. climbed in premarket trading Friday, a day after the drug developer reported strong data from a mid-stage study of a potential chronic rash treatment.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company is testing a topical drug labeled AN2728 as a treatment for atopic dermatitis, which most commonly appears in childhood. Anacor said Thursday that lesions treated with the ointment improved throughout a 28-day treatment period, with most improvement happening within the first week.

The ointment appears to be faster and superior to the performance of currently approved treatments like Elidel that do not involve steroids, Wedbush analyst Gregory R. Wade said in a research note.

He said there is a great unmet medical need for an atopic dermatitis treatment, since current treatments like steroids remain unsuitable for sensitive areas. He also said the ointment could become an effective psoriasis treatment.

The analyst said the treatment could bring in annual revenue that peaks at nearly $1 billion if regulators approve it. Wade raised his 12-month price target on Anacor shares to $20 from $10.

Anacor will now test the ointment in late-stage clinical research, the last phase before a drug company submits a product to regulators.

Shares of the company jumped more than 17 percent, or 85 cents to $5.69 in trading about 30 minutes before the market opening on Friday. The stock has traded between $3 and $7.18 over the past 52-weeks.

Wedbush has done investment banking work for Anacor in the past year, a common disclosure for analysts who cover publicly traded companies.