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Immunomedics reports positive study of cancer drug

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. (AP) -- Shares of Immunomedics jumped Wednesday after announcing that its treatment for a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma helped to extend the lives of patients that used it in combination with another drug.

The company said patients with newly diagnosed follicular lymphoma responded well to a combination of its epratuzumab and Roche's drug, Rituxan. Patients who took the drug regimen lived about 3.5 years prior to death or disease progression on average. Immunomedics said about 60 percent of the patients are still alive three years after being treated.

Follicular lymphoma is a slow growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system. The epratuzumab-Rituxan regimen is being studied as a treatment for newly diagnosed cases of the disease. Immunomedics said Rituxan and chemotherapy can improve survival in those patients, but many patients can't tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy or don't want to try it.

Immunomedics reported results from 59 patients in the mid-stage trial. The company said 25 of the patients went into complete remission after treatment and 27 had a partial response to treatment.

Shares of Immunomedics Inc. gained 8 cents to $5.06 at midday. The stock rose as much as 7.2 percent in morning trading.

Immunomedics has no approved drugs. It has epratuzumab to UCB SA as a treatment for conditions other than cancer, and UCB is conducting late-stage testing of the drug as a treatment for lupus.