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Oncolytics rises on melanoma study results

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Oncolytics Biotech Inc. rose Wednesday after the company reported promising results for its drug Reolysin as a treatment for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Oncolytics said it is expanding the trial because of positive early results, as three out of 14 patients had their tumors shrink following treatment with the drug. Another seven patients had stable disease, meaning their cancer didn't progress. Oncolytics will now enroll more patients in the study.

Shares of the Canadian company rose 14 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $2.86 in morning trading.

The midstage study is designed to evaluate Reolysin and chemotherapy as a treatment for melanoma that has metastasized, and the trial involves patients who were not candidates for standard treatment or who hadn't been helped by at least one previous round of treatment. Oncolytics said up to 43 patients will be treated in the full study.

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 because while the body's immune response stops the reovirus from replicating in healthy cells, the antiviral response is not effective in cancer cells with specific mutations. The virus multiplies and the cell dies.

In December 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.

Oncolytics shares more than doubled in value on that news, rising from $2.17 in mid-December to a 52-week high of $4.93 in early February. However the shares have declined since then.