Health Stocks in Motion

Avant Immunotherapeutics up on sale of royalty rights.
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Updated from 2:31 p.m.

Shares of

Avant Immunotherapeutics

(AVAN)

were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 7.7% after the company said it would sell royalty rights to an affiliate of Paul Royalty Fund II for about $61 million.

Avant expects to receive $50 million of the funding within the next 12 months. The royalty rights relate to the company's Rotarix product, a vaccine that Avant has licensed to

GlaxoSmithKline

(GSK) - Get Report

. Notwithstanding the sale of some of its royalty rights, Avant still retains a substantial upside in future royalty sales, especially if the product does well commercially. "This transaction will provide us with a significant and non-dilutive capital infusion to invest in those programs that we expect will return maximum shareholder value," Avant said. Shares traded up 10 cents to $1.40.

Bayer

rose 3.2% after the company received a license from EraGen Biosciences for its cystic fibrosis assay. The exclusive license will allow Bayer HealthCare, a member of the Bayer Group, to provide laboratories with a cystic fibrosis assay that is capable of being automated for mutation carrier screening as well as for neonatal and newborn testing, Bayer said. Cystic Fibrosis affects about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S., with about 1,000 new cases each year. On a worldwide basis, the disease affects some 60,000 people. Shares traded up $1.06 to $33.87.

Shares of

Cell Genesys

(CEGE)

rose 3% after the company said it received a special protocol assessment from the Food and Drug Administration for its second Phase III clinical trial of GVAX prostate cancer vaccine. The company's first Phase III trial, which was initiated in July 2004, was also granted a special protocol assessment from the FDA. The SPA is a process that allows for FDA evaluation of a Phase III trial and provides trial sponsors with a binding written agreement that the design and analysis of the study are sufficient to support a license application submission if the study is performed according to the SPA. Cell Genesys is planning two Phase III trials of GVAX vaccine for prostate cancer in hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients with radiologic evidence of metastatic disease, it said. Shares traded up 18 cents to $6.18.

Other health-care volume movers included

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

, up 24 cents to $28.44;

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, down 6 cents to $32.95;

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

, down 55 cents to $62.35;

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

, down 31 cents to $67.60;

Elan

(ELN)

, up 6 cents to $7.36;

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

, down 13 cents to $25.39;

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, down 5 cents to $20.20; and

Genentech

(DNA)

, down 14 cents to $74.