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Prana rises on extension of Alzheimer's drug study

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Prana Biotechnology Ltd. rose Wednesday after the company said it received approval to conduct an extension study of its experimental Alzheimer's disease drug.

THE SPARK: The Australian company said a research ethics committee at Austin Hospital in Melbourne approved the 12-month extension study after reviewing data from the first part of the study. Prana expects to start treating the first patients in the extension study in August. The company is running a 12-month mid-stage trial of a drug called PBT2, and it expects to complete the first part of that trial at the end of 2013. It should report results in March 2014.

Prana said all of the patients in the study have completed at least six months of treatment, and about 15 percent have been treated for a full year.

THE BIG PICTURE: PBT2 is the company's most advanced drug candidate. Prana is also studying the drug as a treatment for Huntington's disease, and it is running preclinical studies of potential treatment for Parkinson's disease and brain cancer.

SHARE ACTION: Prana Biotechnology shares rose 40 cents, or 16.5 percent, to close at $2.82. Earlier the stock peaked at $2.97, its highest price in 2013.