AB Soars 72% as Cancer Drug Beats Pfizer’s Sutent: Paris Mover

AB Science SA (AB) soared 72 percent in Paris trading after a clinical trial showed the company’s experimental cancer drug masitinib worked better than a Pfizer Inc. (PFE) medicine on gastrointestinal tumors.

AB Science rose 4.42 euros to 10.60 euros at the close of trading, giving the company a market value of 332.3 million euros ($437.2 million). The gain was the biggest since AB Science’s initial public offering in April 2010.

The medicine, which the company sells for a common form of cancer in dogs, extended the lives of human patients with tumors of the intestinal tract in a mid-stage study. AB Science says the medicine shows promise in other types of cancer as well as asthma and multiple sclerosis. The company can push the drug through clinical tests and will only seek a partner to bring it to market, Chief Executive Officer Alain Moussy.

“At this time we don’t need a partner,” Moussy said in a telephone interview today. “We’ve been able to execute a large clinical program by ourselves. It’s tough, but we are doing it.” He declined to comment on any current or future talks with potential marketing partners.

The clinical test showed that patients with advanced tumors that that didn’t respond to treatment with Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Gleevec lived longer and experienced fewer side effects when taking masitinib than with Pfizer’s Sutent, Paris-based AB Science said in a statement late yesterday.

Twin Action

Among the 23 patients who took the experimental medicine, 79 percent were still alive after 18 months and 53 percent lived after two years. In the group of 21 patients who took Sutent, 20 percent were alive after 18 months and none after two years.

“It’s very rare to see such a difference of survival,” Moussy said. He holds 41 percent of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Masitinib targets mast cells, which help govern immunity, and kinases, a type of enzyme that plays a role in the growth of cancerous cells. It is also being tested in pancreatic cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma.

The success in gastrointestinal stromal tumors, also known as GIST, may prompt regulators to try to fast-track the drug’s approval process, according to Moussy.

The drug could be approved in 12 months if regulators consider it based solely on the results announced yesterday, he said.

“That’s the most optimistic scenario,” he said. “It could take years” if regulators want to see another trial with more patients, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Trista Kelley in London at tkelley2@bloomberg.net; Marthe Fourcade in Paris at mfourcade@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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