NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) released positive data Sunday for a drug intended to treat types of gastrointestinal tumors. The company said that initial data in its Phase 2 trial of Iclusig showed it has "anti-tumor activity" in patients with advanced gastrointestinal tumors that have proven resistant to other treatments.
Ariad rose nearly 10% in premarket trading to $7.09. By 10:30 a.m. the stock settled back to the $6.80 range, still up nearly 6%.
The overwhelming majority of traders on StockTwits.com called for the stock to go higher. Sentiment on the stock is 96% bullish, according to StockTwits analytics.
The Phase 2 trial is ongoing. There are 35 patients involved and the FDA lifted a partial hold preventing Ariad from enrolling new patients.
$ARIA Solid science, solid leadership, minor setback. Time to recover & exceed!! This is Ariad goal, not sell cheap to please retail shares? Sully (@SullyinFL) Jun. 2 at 07:27 AM
The FDA enacted the hold in October after some patients treated with Ariad's drug developed blood clots in their arteries. The prescriber's warning label for Iclusig says at least 27% of patients treated with the drug suffered a clot in arteries or veins. Patients with and without cardiovascular risk factors, including patients less than 50 years old, had clots. Heart failure, including fatalities, occurred in 8% of Iclusig-treated patients. The stock had dropped 59% on the October news.
$ARIA Morning all. Glad to see some love finally. Rough few months but patience pays. Cheers to a good day!? Ben Parker (@Bparker5512) Jun. 2 at 07:51 AM
While side effects including a clot-induced stroke or heart attack are frightening, Iclusig is intended for people whose cancer type leaves them few other options. Patients can only enroll in the study if they have gastrointestinal stromal tumors that have spread to other organs and/or cannot be removed via surgery. In addition, they must also have cancer mutations that have made other treatments ineffective, such as tyrosine-kinase inhibitor treatments, which target cancers by interrupting signals to create more proteins that cause the tumor to spread.
Every year, 5,000 more people are diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The five-year survival rate for people who have such tumors and have had them spread to nearby organs is nearly 75%, according to Cancer.org.
To some, the high survival rate indicates that most people respond to existing treatments and that the market potential for Iclusig isn't as great as the bulls believe. Bears argued Monday that excitement over the early Phase II results would fade, along with stock gains.
But Ariad is intended for people who have proven resistant to common treatments. And for people with no other options, the medication could be a lifesaver.
That's why many on StockTwits.com believe Ariad is developing a valuable drug that could make the company worth much more than $1.21 billion, its market cap before the open.
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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.