Halozyme Therapeutics Inc said its lead experimental drug, in tandem with therapies from Celgene Corp and Eli Lilly and Co, succeeded in a mid-stage study involving patients with an advanced form of pancreatic cancer.
Halozyme's shares shot up 21.6 percent to $13 before the opening bell on Thursday.
Halozyme's PEGPH20, in combination with Celgene's Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) and Lilly's gemcitabine, provided a statistically significant benefit in helping patients with high levels of hyaluronan (HA) live longer without their cancer worsening.
PEGPH20 is an enzyme that targets and degrades HA - a chain of natural sugars throughout human tissue that can accumulate in higher concentrations around certain cancer cells - potentially constricting blood vessels and impeding access of other therapies.
The data confirms for the first time that high HA patients will have a meaningfully greater response when PEGPH20 is added to their treatment, Dr. Sunil Hingorani, the study's principal investigator and a pancreas cancer expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in a statement.
Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, killing about 41,780 Americans in 2016, the American Cancer Society estimates.
PEGPH20 is also being tested in combination with Merck & Co Inc's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for gastric cancer and the most common form of lung cancer.
It is also being evaluated for use in breast cancer in combination with Eisai Co Ltd's Halaven (eribulin mesylate).