Array BioPharma Inc said its experimental drug helped patients with a form of melanoma live longer without their cancer progressing, in an ongoing late-stage study.
The company’s stock jumped about 17 percent before the opening bell on Wednesday.
Data showed that patients with advanced NRAS-mutant melanoma treated with the drug, binimetinib, lived for a median of 2.8 months before their disease worsened, compared with 1.5 months for patients treated with the chemotherapy dacarbazine.
Array in March regained the rights to the compound from Novartis AG. It had granted the Swiss drugmaker the license to develop and market binimetinib in 2010. (bit.ly/1B7hRoH)
In a research note published last month, Wells Fargo’s Matthew Andrews noted that former partner Novartis had originally designed the study expecting the drug to improve progression-free survival to roughly 4 months compared to dacarbazine.
Nearly 74,000 new cases of melanoma and nearly 10,000 deaths from the disease are projected for 2015, according to Array. NRAS mutations occur in about 15 to 20 percent of metastatic melanoma patients. On average, those with the stubborn mutation live an average of 8.5 months once diagnosed.
Array’s binimetinib is the first targeted therapy with positive results in NRAS melanoma, the company said. Detailed results from the trial, “NEMO”, which consists of 402 patients, will be presented at a medical meeting next year.
The drug is also being tested in separate late-stage studies in patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma and ovarian cancer.
Array on Wednesday said it plans to submit an application to market binimetinib to treat NRAS-mutant melanoma in the first half of 2016.
The stock closed at $3.83 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)