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Orexigen Starts New Trial of Obesity Drug

Shares of the newly public biotech company climb on the news.

Orexigen Therapeutics

(OREX)

climbed 13% after the biopharmaceutical company initiated the second study in a phase III clinical trial for its lead product candidate, Contrave.

Contrave, a treatment for obesity, uses the central nervous system to effect weight loss. In a prior phase IIb trial, Contrave -- a combination of Bupropion SR and Naltrexone SR -- demonstrated a statistically significant weight loss at 48 weeks compared with other drugs alone and the placebo, Orexigen said.

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In April, the San Diego, Calif., company initiated enrollment in its first phase III clinical trial, which is designed to evaluate the treatment alone or when combined with intense diet, exercise and behavior modification.

The 56-week study that Orexigen is initiating now will assess the safety and efficacy of the treatment in obese patients who manifest type 2 diabetes. CEO Gary Tollefson indicated that the company has preliminary evidence that the treatment may positively affect risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, according to a company statement.

Orexigen came public in April via a 7-million-share initial public offering, raising $84 million with underwriters Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan.

The company's shares climbed $2.12 to $18.09 in recent trading Monday afternoon.