Shares of Oncolytics Biotech Inc. climbed Monday after the drug developer said its lead product Reolysin may have a broader use as a potential cancer treatment.

The Canadian company released results from an early-stage study of the drug as a possible treatment of colorectal cancer that has spread. It said patients taking Reolysin in combination with a common chemotherapy regimen called Folfiri had an overall progression-free survival of 7.4 months.

Progression-free survival measures the time before a disease progresses or the patient in the study dies.

The study delivered a compelling result by showing that the disease had either slowed or stabilized in about half the patients, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Brian Klein said. He also said the progression-free survival time was compelling too, but he noted that the study size was small, with only 21 patients enrolled.

Klein also said the result shows the drug appears safe and well-tolerated, and it gives a reason to continue clinical study.

Oncolytics said it will continue testing the drug in colorectal cancer patients. It had presented preliminary results from the small study at a recent gastrointestinal cancers symposium in San Francisco.

The drugmaker currently has no drugs on the market. Reolysin, its most advanced product, also is in late-state testing as a potential treatment for head and neck cancers.

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.

U.S.-traded shares of Oncolytics rose 2 percent, or 7 cents, to $3.46 in Monday morning trading while broader trading indexes were relatively flat.

 

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