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Cancer Study Lifts Millennium

The company says testing shows its drug Velcade can improve the survival rate of blood cancer victims.

Shares of

Millennium Pharmaceuticals


jumped Tuesday following the release of research data that says the drug Velcade can improve the survival rates of patients suffering from the blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

Shares of the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company gained $1.25, or 9.3%, to $14.81, having bounced as high as $15.47.

Millennium announced the test results Monday after markets had closed. Velcade was approved 12 months ago by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for multiple myeloma in patients who had received at least two prior treatments of other therapies and whose disease had progressed since the last therapy. Four weeks ago, the European Commission gave its OK for the marketing of Velcade.

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The latest test results compared Velcade to dexamethasone, a standard treatment for the disease. Millennium said Velcade achieved a statistically significant survival benefit over the other drug.

"We are extremely pleased and enthusiastic about the clear survival advantage demonstrated in this trial," Dr. David Schenken, Millennium's vice president for clinical oncology development, said Monday. He added that the test was the first randomized clinical trial to show a survival benefit for a new drug when compared to a standard form of care for advanced multiple myeloma.

These results are part of a test that was halted in December 2003 -- one year early -- after independent reviewers said Velcade had achieved the study's primary goal of producing a statistically significant slowing of tumor growth compared to dexamethasone. (Details of the study will be presented June 6 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans.)

Millennium's marketing and development partner for Velcade is

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report

. Millennium is selling Velcade in the U.S.; J&J markets the drug in other markets. J&J's stock was off 6 cents to $54.64 in late morning trading.