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Biotech firm



reported Thursday that its experimental antibiotic dalbavancin proved effective in a midstage clinical trial in patients suffering from skin and soft tissue infections.

In the phase II study, dalbavancin, given by injection once a week for two weeks, showed higher response rates compared with a variety of current treatments, including the

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antiobiotic vancomycin. The 62 hospitalized patients in the study had infections involving abcesses, ulcers and burns. Patients using dalbavancin showed a 94% response rate, compared with 76% for patients getting standard care, which involved taking antibiotics daily for up to three weeks.

Versicor is developing dalbavancin as the first, weekly, injectable, hospital-based antiobiotic for staphylococcal and other serious gram-positive infections.

Phase III clinical trials for the new antibiotic are set to begin later this year, the company said. It expects to file an approval application in 2004.

Versicor says that nearly 2 million hospital-based infections occur in the U.S. every year, with a majority caused by staph and other gram-positive bacteria.

In early trading Versicor shares were up 48 cents, or 4.7%, to $10.75.