ASCO: Cancer Stock Winners, Losers

BOSTON ( TheStreet) --Shares of Vical ( VICL) and Agenus ( AGEN) were up while Oxigene ( OXGN) and Ariad Pharmaceuticals ( ARIA) slipped in early Thursday trading of cancer drug stocks on the morning after the release of research abstracts for the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.

Wednesday night's release of ASCO research abstracts -- short, preliminary summaries of efficacy and safety data from cancer drug clinical trials -- serves as a warm-up for the medical society's closely watched meeting June 3-7. The ASCO abstract release is a closely watched event for Wall Street because the revelation of new cancer drug data often has a significant effect on biotech and drug stocks.

Yet this year, the ASCO abstracts yielded relatively little new or groundbreaking data, which may be disappointing traders and leading to relatively mundane moves in so-called "ASCO stocks."

Gainers Thursday include Vical, which is developing a skin cancer vaccine, up 2% to $4.32 a share. Agenus, developer of an early-stage brain tumor vaccine, is also up 3% to 97 cents a share.

The biggest losers Thursday morning were Oxigene, falling 8% to $4.72 a share. Oxigene had been the hottest ASCO stock going into Wednesday night's abstract release, making it an ideal candidate for a sell-on-the-news reaction.

Ariad fell 5% to $8.71. Positive results from a phase III study of the company's sarcoma drug ridaforolimus were previously disclosed, but new data released Wednesday night showed a non-statisically significant trend toward improved survival.

Other ASCO stocks in the green Thursday (although some just barely) included Exelixis ( EXEL), YM BioSciences ( YMI), Pharmacyclics ( PCYC) and Medivation ( MDVN).

ASCO stocks falling Thursday included Onyx Pharmaceuticals ( ONXX), down 5% to $43.21, whose approved kidney cancer drug Nexavar may face new competition from a new Pfizer ( PFE) drug, axitinib, which reported positive phase III results last night. Also down were Aveo Pharmaceuticals ( AVEO) and Nektar Therapeutics ( NKTR).

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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