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Oncolytics rises on new cancer drug data

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Oncolytics Biotech Inc. jumped Friday after the company said its drug Reolysin shrunk the tumors of almost all the patients in a small clinical trial.

The company said 20 patients were treated with Reolysin and two chemotherapy drugs, and 19 of them had smaller tumors after treatment. On average their tumors shrank by about a third. The patients in the mid-stage trial had squamous cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer, and their disease had metastasized or returned after previous treatment.

Oncolytics shares rose $1.28, or 35.9 percent, to $4.85 in morning trading.

Reolysin is based on a common virus called the respiratory enteric orphan virus, or reovirus. Oncolytics says most adults have been exposed to the virus and it usually has no symptoms. Reolysin is designed to infect and destroy cancer cells. The company says the body's immune response stops the reovirus from replicating in healthy cells, but in cancer cells with specific mutations, the antiviral response is not effective. The virus multiplies and the cell dies.

On Dec. 13, the Canadian drugmaker said Reolysin met its goal in a late-stage trial that evaluated the drug as a treatment for head and neck cancers. In January the company reported positive results for Reolysin as a treatment for colorectal cancer. Shares of Oncolytics are up 64.5 percent since then.