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Oxigene Soars as Compound Gets Added Study

The biotech company's shares rise 80%, and volume is extremely heavy.

Biotech firm



saw its shares soar Monday after the company said its lead vascular targeting agent will be combined with two chemotherapy drugs in a new clinical trial involving patients with advanced ovarian cancer.

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The agent, Combretastatin A4 Prodrug, or CA4P, will be studied with carboplatin and paclitaxel in a Phase I/II trial in the U.K. Last week, Oxigene said the Food and Drug Administration granted fast track designation to CA4P for treating advanced anaplastic thyroid cancer. CA4P currently is being evaluated in a Phase II study of patients with this disease.

CA4P is also being evaluated in a study with patients who have malignancies of the lung, head and neck and prostate, and a separate trial evaluating the treatment's effectiveness against various solid tumors.

Around midday, shares of Oxigene were up $6.79, or 80%, to $15.27. The stock has traded as high as $19.40, easily breaking through the old 52-week high at $8.96. Volume was more than 17 million shares. On an average day, about 460,000 shares of Oxigene trade. As recently as May 14, Oxigene closed at under $2 a share.

The action in Oxigene isn't unlike the behavior of biotech stocks in general lately and companies working on cancer therapies in particular. Investors have been on a buying frenzy in recent weeks, sending the biotech names sharply higher. On Monday, however, the group was weaker. The Amex Biotech Index was lower by 4.3%, and the Nasdaq Biotech Index was off 3%.