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Celldex jumps on breast cancer drug study data

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Celldex Therapeutics Inc. jumped Monday after the company reported positive clinical trial results for an experimental treatment for breast cancer.

THE SPARK: Celldex said patients who were treated with CDX-011 had higher response rates than patients who received other treatments chosen by investigators. The company said patients who were treated with CDX-011 also appeared to live longer, although the mid-stage trial was not designed to determine if the difference was statistically significant.

The Needham, Mass., company said patients who were initially treated with an investigator-chosen therapy and switched to CDX-011 after their disease began to progress had median survival of 12.5 months. Patients who stayed on investigator's choice treatment even after disease progression survived for 5.4 months.

THE BIG PICTURE: Celldex develops cancer treatments, and its most advanced experimental drug is a treatment for the brain cancer glioblastoma. CDX-011 is designed to attach itself to a protein that promotes the migration, invasion and metastasis of breast cancer. The company said the protein is also associated with greater risk of cancer recurrence.

The results were reported over the weekend at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

THE ANALYSIS: Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Boris Peaker said the results suggest that CDX-011 could be approved sooner than expected, and the company will meet with the Food and Drug Administration later this month to discuss further development of the drug. Peaker maintained an "Outperform" rating on Celldex stock and raised his price target to $10 per share from $8.

Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantinigis said Celldex is becoming an important developer of immune therapies for cancer. He kept a "Buy" rating on the shares and boosted his price target to $11 per share from $9.

SHARE ACTION: Celldex stock rose $1.29, or 23 percent, to $6.81 in midday trading. The shares have more than doubled in value in 2011 after starting the year at $2.60, and earlier Monday the shares reached a three-year high of $7.14.