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Sangamo hits 4-year high as Lazard starts coverage

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Sangamo BioSciences Inc. jumped Thursday after a Lazard Capital Markets analyst started coverage of the stock with a "Buy" rating.

THE SPARK: Analyst Ryan Martins said Sangamo's products could become a big step forward for gene therapy. He said the company is studying a variety of drugs for diseases lacking good treatment options. And if its drugs work with only a single dose, they "would revolutionize the way medicine is practiced."

Martins set a price target of $16 per share.

THE BIG PICTURE: Sangamo is working on drugs that could treat HIV, brain cancer, hemophilia, and other diseases. The Richmond, Calif., company's drugs are based on its zinc finger protein technology, which is aimed at turning off parts of genes. It is conducting mid-stage clinical trials of a treatment for HIV and AIDS, and expects to report data from that study this year. Its other drugs have not been tested on humans.

SHARE ACTION: Sangamo shares rose 88 cents, or 9.5 percent, to close at $10.19. The stock peaked at $10.60, its highest price in four and a half years.