Avalon Pharmaceuticals ( AVRX) says it's initiating a drug discovery program for a new type of cancer treatment.

The research effort will target a specific molecule known as survivin, which is responsible for cancer growth and death in breast, lung, prostate, pancreatic and colon cancers.

"Avalon Pharmaceuticals is especially well-suited to undertake a discovery program for this intractable cancer pathway," said Dr. Kenneth Carter, Avalon's president and CEO. "Our AvalonRx technology identifies potential therapeutics based upon their ability to modulate pathways or targets within living cells.

Avalon's pipeline also includes drugs being developed in collaboration with MedImmune ( MEDI), Novartis ( NVS), ChemDiv and Medarex ( MEDX).

Avalon's shares were up 11.1% to $3.30.