Updated with new stock price. BEDMINSTER, N.J. ( TheStreet) -- NPS Pharmaceuticals ( NPSP) shares moved higher Monday after the company announced that patients with short bowel syndrome were able to significantly reduce intravenous feeding following treatment with the experimental drug Gattex, according to positive results from a pivotal phase III study. Based on results from the study, NPS intends to seek U.S. approval for Gattex in the second half of the year, the company said. NPS shares were up 25% to $9.55 in early Monday trading. Sixty-three percent of patients with short bowel syndrome responded to treatment with Gattex after six months compared to 30% of similar patients treated with a placebo. This outcome -- the study's primary endpoint -- was highly statistically significant. The phase III study of Gattex, dubbed STEPS, enrolled and treated 86 patients. Response in this phase III study was defined as a greater than 20% reduction in weekly volume of parenteral nutrition at weeks 20-24 compared to baseline. Short-bowel syndrome (SBS) is a chronic and disabling condition that strikes people, who for various reasons including Crohn's disease, have about 50% of their lower intestines surgically removed. A large majority of patients can adapt or regenerate new bowel to lead normal lives. A smaller group of SBS patients never recover full functionality of their lower intestines, and a result, must spend the rest of their lives attached to an intravenous parenteral nutrition bag that provides the liquid nutrients they need to survive. "The STEPS results suggest teduglutide
Gattex helps restore normal intestinal nutrition in patients with short bowel syndrome, thereby reducing dependence on parenteral nutrition and potentially improving their quality of life," said Dr. Palle Bekker Jeppesen of the University Hospital Copenhagen and an investigator in the Gattex study, in a statement. Gattex is a recombinant, humanized and longer-acting form of GLP-2, a naturally occurring protein that is secreted by the bowel to enhance the absorption of nutrients and increase blood flow to the gut. Patients with SBS typically require about 12 liters of parenteral nutrition per week. In the phase III study, patients treated with Gattex, given as a daily shot under the skin, were able to reduce the parenteral nutrition volume by an average of 4.4 liters per week compared to a reduction of 2.3 liters for placebo patients, NPS said.