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Agenus brain cancer vaccine improves survival in mid-stage study

(Reuters) - Biotechnology company Agenus Inc said its experimental brain cancer vaccine increased the survival of patients without their cancer worsening in a mid-stage trial, compared with the standard treatment.

Agenus shares jumped as much as 34 percent on the Nasdaq on Monday morning.

The vaccine, codenamed HSPPC-96, showed an almost 18 month median progression-free survival — a 160 percent increase versus current standard treatment of radiation combined with chemotherapy drug temozolomide.

The vaccine was being used in combination with the standard treatment to treat patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of tumor which affects the brain.

Agenus plans to discuss a late-stage trial with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, based on the trial data.

A preliminary analysis of the study in May had showed that the vaccine had a 146 percent increase in progression-free survival when compared with the standard-of-care.

"We are impressed by the data and look forward to feedback from the FDA regarding next steps," Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantginis wrote in a note, raising the price target on the stock to $15.

It was up 22 percent at $3.34 at midday after touching a high of $3.68.

(Reporting By Adithya Venkatesan; Editing by Joyjeet Das)

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